“And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.” (Mark 1:12-13, NRSV)
The Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness. This was no limo ride with plush seats and oversized windows. This drive feels more like a can of hydrogen strapped to His body, propelling Him forward. Immediately. Now.
Iʼve been driven, dragged, and disciplined into Lent. I donʼt get a limo either. I remember Lents when it felt like I was driven by an old rattletrap car, like the Studebaker Lark I drove the summer after my freshman year in college. It leaked oil and often overheated. The ride was slow, worrisome, and given to frequent stops and re-starts.
There were too many years when I was driven by a self-improvement list that was longer than a five-year-oldʼs letter to Santa. I have had years when the drive resembled a carousel, round and round and going nowhere. While we are in the amusement park,
I can see the roller coaster drive too, lots of ups and downs with great relief as it comes to an end.
I have been driven into the Lenten wilderness by the mournful bugle call of “Taps.” Someone or something has died and I am lost, sad, and alone. The dark welcomes me. It is just what my soul needs.
I have even scheduled my own ride into the wilderness, like a taxi that picks me up for an early morning flight. I know I have decisions to make or demons to meet or fears to challenge. As Ash Wednesday approaches I reconsider, but the cab is on its way and I canʼt find the phone number to cancel. As I enter the wild, I slowly get out, pay the fare, and watch my cab turn into a pumpkin. No escape now.
Once I am in the wilderness, I start to notice signs of new life. Little green shoots appear under decaying leaves, rotting tree trunks, or lingering snow. As my soul adjusts, I sense new life elsewhere. The buds on the branches swell, the birds call for a mate, the streams gather melting waters. The winds bring fresh smells of renewal.
None of us escape time in the wilderness. It doesnʼt always match the liturgical season; it isnʼt often convenient. Sometimes we are accompanied by others. Sometimes we go alone. We do know since the Spirit is driving, the Spirit is with us, just as the Spirit waswith Jesus. I wonder how the Spirit will drive me into the wilderness this year. How might the Spirit be driving you?
Mary Lou Logsdon companions people through their wilderness times in spiritual direction. She also leads retreats focused on liturgical seasons and other topics. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-583-1802.