The Way of the Desert

I recently spent time in the desert Southwest where I admired the unique beauty of the desert landscape, not unlike the desert terrain that Jesus entered in the Judean wilderness in his 40-days of temptation from the enemy. Deserts can be harsh and unyielding to human control, yet when the season is right there is a certain beauty that grows out of those conditions. The truth of this caused me to pause as I embarked on this year’s Lenten journey. Could the dread we sometimes experience as we make our Lenten vows change into an eagerness to see the beauty the LORD has waiting for us as we make our way through the desert? Consider why Christ journeyed into the desert; his motivation was and always is love for us. Love led him to the desert, he didn’t need to prove his love by conquering the temptations common to us, but we do; and so he went to show us the way of love through the desert into the abundance of the love-life with him.

Our Catholic Faith refers to our growth in the beauty of holiness as the Purgative Way where we cast from our lives the bitter root of sin that our spirit accumulates when we do not guard our hearts. Much like a gardener tending his garden, our LORD desires to tend to our spirit so that the beauty of holiness can flourish in us. During the Lenten season, the Purgative Way is a journey of concentrated humbling. Humility, or humus, literally means “on the ground…earth” That is helpful to me as I consider that I get down and dirty with the LORD in this journey through the desert terrain of Lent so that his beauty can grow in me. The Sacred Scripture reveals God’s master plan for the landscape of our lives:

“Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.”

Leviticus 19

During the Lenten season, I envision the LORD kneeling down with me in the “humus” of my life as we tend to the weeds that I’ve allowed to grow through my willful lack of attention. We clear away malice and envy, resentment and bitterness, gluttony and avarice, it’s tough work to destroy roots that go deep into our soil, but here’s the thing, beneath the tangle and decay of sin, the LORD has beauty ready to grow, permeating us with his holiness! There beneath the refuse of death, springs forth the tender green shoots of love, grace, peace.

I offer to you a helpful litany that is guiding me as I get down and dirty with the LORD this Lenten season. The author is anonymous.

The Fast Life

Fast from judging others;
Feast on Christ dwelling in them.
Fast from fear of illness;
Feast on the healing power of God.
Fast from words that pollute;
Feast on speech that purifies.
Fast from discontent;
Feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger;
Feast on patience.

Fast from pessimism;
Feast on hope.
Fast from negatives;
Feast on encouragement.
Fast from bitterness;
Feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern;
Feast on compassion.
Fast from suspicion;
Feast on truth.
Fast from gossip;
Feast on purposeful silence.
Fast from problems that overwhelm;
Feast on prayer that sustains.
Fast from anxiety;
Feast on faith.

– Author Unknown

LORD Jesus, may our love for you lead us through this Lenten desert.

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

As it was in the beginning, it is now, and ever shall be, world without end.


Published by

The Maiden Warrior

Greetings, friend. "In silence and rest is your salvation" are words from the prophet Isaiah that echo the desire of my life. I've been following that desire my entire life as I seek to live and move and have my being in what the LORD desires for me. I'm still learning the beauty of silence and rest as my salvation, it's a long obedience in the right direction. This is my journey.

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