This summer, my daughter Savannah and I will go on a long-planned and long-delayed trip of a lifetime—what some refer to as an event from their bucket list. We will take a rafting trip on the Green River in Colorado and Utah, in the High Desert Canyons of Lodore. In the Bible, the Spanish translation of wilderness is desierto, the desert. This is where I must go following a year of Google and Zoom meetings.
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is driven by the Spirit into the desert. There he is physically and spiritually tested, and after 40 days, he returns and begins his ministry. From the Gospels of both Mark and Matthew, we read that Jesus was tempted by the devil, possibly showing the desert to be a place of evil with sinister designs to undo us in body and soul. In the first chapter of Mark, Jesus was in the wilderness, tempted by Satan, but also “he was with the wild beasts, and the angels waited on him.”
To me, wilderness describes a place where God and his creation dwell. It’s a place to renew the Baptismal Covenant that is the key to the meaning of all bucket lists. It’s also a place to, yes, be with the wild beasts. And although I may not be served by angels, I will be in the midst of God’s love in the wilderness.
I hope that you also may find a technology-free desert to find some time in the land of rest.
The Rev. Clayton Waddell