According to the Gospel of Mark, the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness. Is the Spirit driving me into the desert? Seems like lots of things are driving me, but I rarely feel the Spirit driving me. Lent is a time the Church sets aside for making space for the Spirit, a time to move away from the normal distractions of life and be renewed by the Spirit of Life. Lent is a time to look at what drives me, what excites me and see if those things actually drive me away from the reality of God. Lent is about empty spaces, desert places, that give me the opportunity to feel the Spirit drive me into the desert of my heart and mind in order to purge them of all those desires that are not healthy. We don’t have to wait for Lent because we can enter the spirit of Lent anytime.
In the wilderness for forty days, Jesus was tempted by Satan. The desert, with its lack of clutter and people, has endless stretches of time to look closely at the wasteland of my life. The desert challenges me to come back to my true self, the self made in the image of God, an image I have tarnished by my self-destructive behavior, my yielding to the drives and desires that do not reveal the beauty of God.
The desert reveals my essential neediness and vulnerability. But the desert, with its vast horizon of empty space, is a place where I learn that I am not alone. In the desert, you find the Spirit who shows you how to be your true self.