I have heard Lent described as a time in which we enter the desert with Christ, as He journeys His forty days of fasting, prayer, and temptation. Recently, upon further reflection of that statement, I have fallen in love with the description.
We join Him, and we enter into the desert with Him.
I recently confided in our chaplain, “I have truly entered the desert with Christ.” My soul is dry and barren right now, and I am struggling this Lent.
Judging by the countless blog posts I have read, and having spoken with a handful of friends, I know I am not alone. We all seem to share the same message, “Lent is just not happening this year.”
As Leslie pointed out in her recent article, Man plans, and God laughs. And, boy, is that sentiment ringing true this year! Every year, most Catholics enter Lent with lofty goals, built on the three tenets of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. We head into Lent with an upbeat, positive attitude, and then, many of us crash hard, when we realize that we may have bitten off more than we were able to chew.
The more I reflected upon Lent this year, and read feedback from other bloggers, the more I realized that perhaps my approach to Lent, and even my approach to the Nineveh 90, needed a new focus.
We are entering the desert with Christ. We are entering into a vast wilderness, which can be desolate, dry, barren, and lonely.
Lent, historically, is supposed to be a time of penitence, of embracing a level of mortification which makes us a little uncomfortable.
Perhaps the point of our Lenten journey is to struggle a little bit!
I’m not talking about making major impacts to our lives. But, I am realizing Lent is about adding a little bit of struggle to our daily routines… and, to our lives.
It isn’t a pretty, happy, celebratory time – that will come when Christ is resurrected from the dead, and is one reason I love Easter so dearly!
Countless saints and popes have discussed how integral a crisis in the soul is to deepening one’s spiritual journey. When we approach Lent with the added mentality that we are going to give something in particular up, do we really stop to consider that penance as being something to bring our souls closer in union to God? I don’t think we always have that foresight.
But, we give something up anyway.
And then, we struggle, when Lent doesn’t go our way. When we aren’t getting anything out of Lent.
Because God has other plans for us. Grander plans, and He knows exactly what we need, in order to purify and cleanse our souls – and, He will make sure it happens, in the manner He knows will reach our souls best.
So, perhaps you are like me and gave something in particular up. Or, perhaps you entered in to Lent without denying yourself something. I challenge you to look at your Lenten journey, not in the light of it not being fruitful, but instead, as an adventure Christ is taking us on.
Maybe, just maybe, we are having the Lent He wants us to have.
Because deserts are desolate, dry, barren, lonely wildernesses. Lent isn’t supposed to be about us. It is about our souls, finding some deeper connection with Christ, as He deepened His own commitment to His mission on earth.
Lent is about Christ!
And, in the midst of the desolation, He is here with us – accompanying us on this journey. He is hoping we will reach out to Him, and seek the comfort He offers, the grace He extends, and the love He shares.
So, let us invite Him be our oasis this Lent!
11 thoughts on “Embracing the Desert”
I love the idea of Jesus as the oasis! I get very inspired by reading about St. Theresa of Calcutta and St. Teresa of Avila who both experience true “dark night of the soul”. What it would be like to continue serving even through they were receiving no consolation. It helps me see what consolations I *am* receiving. Probably because Jesus knows I’m not strong enough yet to do without them!
I am beginning to read St. John of the Cross’ “The Dark Night of the Soul,” simply because I find it comforting to have education and knowledge of what we can (hopefully) expect our souls to go through. It is always comforting, too, as you pointed out, to know two beautiful saints who experienced the true Dark Night, and how they were able to continue the path God laid before them, even without the reassurance of His presence during those times!
Thanks for commenting!
I am SO glad you wrote this! Thank you! “I challenge you to look at your Lenten journey, not in the light of it not being fruitful, but instead, as an adventure Christ is taking us on. Maybe, just maybe, we are having the Lent He wants us to have.” Just what I needed to hear right now.
I am so glad this touched you, and hopefully helped you recognize this journey is simply that – a journey, or adventure, with Christ beside us (and, at times carrying us)!
Thanks for writing this! I’m struggling with my Parts of my Lenten journey, failing at others, and embracing the rest. Into the dessert I go!
I am so glad you got something out of this piece! Remember – you are not alone; many others feel like they are failing, others are struggling, and others still, embracing their Lenten journey. Just remember to lean on, or let Christ carry you, as He truly is the strength behind all of us!
We all seem to be struggling this year. I find it supportive just to know that! And I love the Christ as oasis image–that is so comforting.
Thank you! It is definitely nice to know we aren’t struggling by ourselves!
I love the idea of Christ as oasis. Thanks for reposting this to share with us!
You’re most welcome – thank you for asking for the link! I, too, really enjoyed the visual of Christ being our oasis… it’s a comforting thought.