Scripture Passage: Numbers 9: 1-3
The Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying: 2Let the Israelites keep the passover at its appointed time. 3On the fourteenth day of this month, at twilight, you shall keep it at its appointed time; according to all its statutes and all its regulations you shall keep it.
Well, we’ve been wandering in the wilderness awhile. Have you heard God speak to you yet? If not, maybe we’re still not traveling light enough, still dragging baggage with us over the rough terrain, so afraid that we will be without something. I, personally, am a terrible over-packer. It’s not so much that I’m afraid to be without something; it really has more to do with preparation. In my swirling, sometimes-chaotic life, if I wait until the last minute to pack (which I often do), I end up just throwing things in a bag. Without taking the time to think things through, I tend to over-compensate. And, more times than not, the bag that I planned to bring turns out not to be big enough or I have to add another bag.
The wilderness requires preparation. The wilderness requires that we be intentional about what it is we do. Why do you think God was so specific about the preparations for the Passover? The Scripture doesn’t say to make sure you cram the Passover into your schedule once a year at a time when it’s convenient or when the weather is right or when you can find time on the church calendar. Sometimes living our faith is NOT convenient. Sometimes it gets in the way of our plans and our lives. Thanks be to God!
Traveling in this wilderness requires that we pack light, that we leave ourselves nimble and with enough room for what we find. The truth is, God is always speaking to us in the wilderness. God is always speaking to us everywhere. But in the wilderness, unencumbered by our baggage and our creature comforts, we finally hear. In the wilderness, we have to be aware, we have to be prepared, we have to present. The way we prepare for the wilderness, the way we be present in the wilderness is to become aware of everything, to hear every sound as if it was our first sound, to taste the dust as it flies up and makes its way between our lips, to feel the thirst in every molecule of our body, to know what we need and to, finally, need it. Preparing to travel light, preparing to feel, preparing to thirst is how will finally pay attention to the God who has been speaking all along.
On this Lenten journey, this Wilderness Season, I hope that you have packed well and only brought what you truly need. I hope that your bag is light enough for you to keep moving, to be prepared to encounter God at every turn. See, God is speaking to us at every turn. But in order to encounter God, we have to pay attention. Martin Buber said that “all actual life is encounter.” The wilderness journey will teach us what we need to encounter the God who is with us always. In the barrenness, we will learn to hunger. In the drought, we will learn to thirst. The wilderness teaches us to encounter; the wilderness teaches us how to feel, to live. But we have to travel light.
God…awaits us every instant in our action, in the work of the moment. There is a sense in which [God] is at the tip of my pen, my spade, my brush, my needle—of my heart and my thought. By pressing the stroke, the line, or the stitch, on which I am engaged, to its ultimate natural finish, I shall lay hold of the last end toward which my innermost will tends. (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin)
Grace and Peace,