Tuesday March 22, 2022
Lent is a time to consider the wilderness. As mentioned in the sermon for the first Sunday of Lent when the scripture lesson was about Jesus spending 40 days in the wilderness, we noted that the wilderness is not blank and featureless. There are land forms and light and clouds. There are stars and planets to observe. There are some plants and many wild animals and insects and lizards. What is important about the wilderness is what is not there. There is not a lot of human messaging. Not a lot of human voices to be heard or evidence of human life in the wilderness. For us that can mean time away from screens and ear buds and speakers and print and social media and email and phones, etc. Something that rarely happens except when we are asleep.
I remember when the covid lockdown was in full swing. I used to take long bike rides around our neighborhood. First of all, I noticed that there was little to no traffic. We live near a busy road, 22nd Avenue North, and there were few if any cars on the road. Then there was the noise. Of birds and squirrels. So much chirping. It was loud. I wondered if it was always like that and I just didn’t notice because of the background sounds of the traffic or were the birds really making more noise? I now know that the birds were making more noise. Were there more birds? Now, I wonder about the bird population and the all the chirping. Are there fewer birds? Or are they just quieter? That all leads to wondering more about the impact of human activity on the animal community – not just on some distant savannah, but in my neighborhood.
And that is the whole point of the wilderness experience; of tuning out the human noise. You are exposed to a bigger reality. And new perspectives and thoughts. You notice different things. You ask questions. You wonder. You listen. And are aware. Of a larger world. What are we hearing from the birds? From trees? From fish and turtles? From plants and water? From lizards and bugs? From sky and sea? From God?
Yes, in the wildness of mercy, we may get just the message we need to hear from a social media post. But there is no need to restrict our listening to the human realm. May we make this Lenten season about the wilderness.
Take some time to tune in to silence or to nature. Mute the human messaging. Notice what that is like. Pay attention to what surfaces and emerges. See how your reality expands. Creating more space for love and mercy to flood in. And to flow out. Consider making this kind of experience part of your regular spiritual practice. Amen.