In October of 2010, I had the amazing privilege of journeying to the Sinai of Egypt. During this season of Lent, I am being called to return to the desert - this time in my thoughts and prayer life. There is a barrenness in the desert landscape that is in sharp contrast to the life I experience at home in the Pacific Northwest. We are surrounded by buckets of rain and lush foliage bursting with color. It can be a challenging shift between the landscapes and I am grateful to have the wisdom of the desert fathers and mothers to guide me. This morning as I pondered Christine's words of blossoming and desolation, I couldn't help but remember my camel ride through the Sinai.
My perfect mentor showed up in the form of a majestic and sultry camel named Bella. She would be my wisdom guide for that day, and she lingers with me now as I rest over 6,000 miles around the globe. Bella was truly a desert queen and knew exactly how to find blossoms in the desert. She bloomed by following her own rhythm, and in these things we have much in common. Oh my, I love that camel. We started our day with a Bedouin boy holding the ropes. Slowly slowly we built trust until ultimately I received the reins. Nonetheless it was Bella who led.
This glorious creature had an uncanny way of spotting the smallest shade of green hundreds of feet ahead. She would subtly pull away from the crowd and with precision-like focus make her way to the nourishing Acacia bush. After dining, Bella and I would take our time wandering and pondering through the dry land. At times we moved slowly and walked along the edges of our tribe. Sometimes the pace was brisk and we bumped up alongside other pilgrims. When spying the blossoms before us, we pulled away from the herd to reach our destination.
As I remember Bella and write these words, it becomes clear this will be my Lenten journey - a season woven with times of rest, nourishment and activity. I must make time for my own rhythm and meditate in my cell as I surrender to the voices of Sabbath. Community will be important, for there I am called to laugh and love. The discipline of the practice offers me restoration and rejuvenation.
Like Bella and I in the desert, we don't have a map and cannot be certain what lies ahead. There is barrenness and desolation along the way, and nourishment blossoms in the most unexpected places. Welcome to the desert. I am grateful to be here. How about you?