In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 3Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
That’s not the wilderness! Wilderness has thick, unsculptured trees or endless sand, hard-to-follow paths or paths that keep disappearing. This isn’t a wilderness. There’s nothing there! But don’t you think nothingness, a formless void covered in darkness is just about as ultimate a wilderness as you can imagine? And keep in mind that there WASN’T nothingness, per se. There was a void, a glob (that’s an official very spiritual term!) of disordered chaos. And God was there, there in the wilderness with the chaos and the glob. All of Creation began in this wilderness. God spoke the first creating Word in that wilderness. God spoke and the formless void began to slowly follow God into being. As the Spirit of God swept over the waters, they moved and parted, letting go of the part of themselves to which they had held so tightly, and they began to change. And then with another Word, God called Light forth and darkness began to be illuminated. Creation had begun. We had begun. The wilderness is where we began.
We know the rest of the tale. God continued to create, continued to order the wilderness, to one by one call Creation into being—earth and sky, plants and suns and moons and ordered seasons, swimming creatures, winged creatures, creeping creatures, walking creatures, and, oh yeah, us! As the last bit of ordering of this incredible called-out Creation, God created Sabbath, the pinnacle, the climax, the glorious coming together into perfect order of all of Creation. And God delighted in this order and called it good.
The wilderness is where we began. In our beginnings, in our disordered chaos, God called us forth into being. God created us not in a haphazard way but in the very image of God. God called us forth to live into that image, to become the very ones that God envisioned we would be. We were probably pretty OK in that wilderness void; after all, we knew nothing different. And then God created us into something new. And God called it good. We were God’s delight, God’s beloved. Oh, sometimes we wander away. Sometimes we mistake really pretty acceptable chaos for God’s ordering. Sometimes we think we have a better idea of who we could be than this image of God. And so we need to return to the wilderness, to the place of our creation, to the place where we began, so that God can say us into being once more.
That’s what Lent does for us. Lent calls us into the wilderness to remind us who and who’s we are, to remind us of that image in which we were made. Lent calls us into the wilderness so that we can begin again.
Every act of creation is first an act of destruction. (Pablo Picasso)
FOR TODAY: Look around at this wilderness. What does it mean to begin again?
Grace and Peace,