At the beginning of March, as TBYAVs we were about to embark on our sojourn retreat and were asked to reflect on the what the desert meant to us. We also reflected on the times the desert is talked about in the Bible. In the Bible the desert is a place of challenge and where we see Jesus tempted. As I’ve been in a program that has the opportunity to bear witness to border issues, the desert has shown again and again to be a place of challenge, death, violence and separation.
However, I have continued to learn the desert is a place of extremes. Very hot days, and in the winter very cold nights. Within these extremes I see the opposing sides of the spectrum. This year a common practice for our check ins has been the Examen. A time in which most often we reflect on the questions: what has been something that’s been life giving and what is something that has been life draining? Or similar questions maybe where have you felt God, where have you felt an absence of God? It’s easy to perhaps see one of these as the “good” or the “bad” because we live in a world that often thinks in binaries. However, I appreciate the acknowledge of these opposing presences whether they are seen as good or bad, or makes someone feel more joy rather than sadness, we can appreciate them as parts of our life and existence.
So though it’s been more prevalent thinking of the challenges and suffering present in the desert, the hurt, the death, the separation, there is the presence of life, and resilience and hope. There is the need for God to nourish the desert, it is a place that both needs God’s attention and where his presence can be felt.