A Pilgrim in the Desert

Posted on 2007-07-21. Filed under: Life, Thoughts |

I know it’s been a really long time since I last blogged. And it’s been a busy “long time” with lots of things going on and lots of changes.

Right now, I’m feeling like a pilgrim on a journey. It seems that all of the changes have re-awakened my inner man that has been slumbering for a very long time. Specifically, it’s the part of my inner man that’s in desperate pursuit of God. I haven’t felt desperate in a long time but I do now. And I think that feeling of desperation is important in pursuit of God. It doesn’t mean that I feel like he’s hiding from me or that I feel unsafe right now. But it does mean that I recognize my utter dependance on him and that I desperately need him in my life. I am seeking his love and passion and comfort. I am not seeking knowledge of them but I need those things themselves in my life, in my heart. I need to be aware of them, to be aware of God’s presence and his concern for me. That, I think, will help put me in a place where I can begin receiving healing and wisdom from him.

So, over the last few days, I’ve been seeking God and I’ve been hearing from multiple sources that I need to be willing to follow God wherever he’s leading me. I trust that his heart is good and I trust that he is for me — that he wants the best for me. Now, that doesnt’ mean that he wants the easiest life I can have. But he wants the life for me that he wants — the one that fits with his will.

I also feel like he’s calling me to the desert. In the Bible, he called many people to the desert in order to be with him and to learn from him. It is a time of breaking down and rebuilding. It is a time of being alone, though not necessarily lonely. It is a time of refocusing and learning to hear.

I am hopeful for restoration of my relationship with God and that is my focus right now. I want him to be pleased with me and to use me. And this journey with him does require me to let go of many things. I think he is leading me into a new chapter of my life that will be based on less selfishness and more giving and sacrifice. However, I want self-sacrifice that brings life to my spirit and not death. I don’t want to have to kill my desires for living fully because I believe God wants me to live fully, to live authentically and on-purpose out of love.

I am re-reading The Sacred Romance and below is a quote that really impacted me. Soon, I will be getting to a chapter called Desert Communion which I’m eager to read.

We are faced with a decision that grows with urgency each passing day: Will we leave our small stories behind and venture forth to follow our Beloved into the Sacred Romance? The choice to become a pilgrim of the heart can happen any day and we can begin our journey from any place. We are here, the time is now, and the Romance is always unfolding. The choice before us is not to make it happen. As Chesterton said, “An adventure is, by its nature, a thing that comes to us. It is a thing that chooses us, not a thing that we choose.” Lucy wasn’t looking for Narnia when she found it on the other side of the wardrobe; in a way, it found her. Abraham wasn’t wandering about looking for the one true God; he showed up with an extraordinary invitation. But having had their encounters, both could have chosen otherwise. Lucy could have shut the wardrobe door and never mentioned what had happened there. Abraham could have opted for life in Haran. The choice before us is a choice to enter in.

So much of the journey forward involves a letting go of all that once brought us life. We turn away from the familiar abiding places of the heart, the false selves we have lived out, the strengths we have used to make a place for ourselves and all our false loves, and we venture forth in our hearts to trace the steps of the One who said, “Follow me.” In a way, it means that we stop pretending: that life is better than it is, that we are happier than we are, that the false selves we present to the world are really us. We respond to the Haunting, the wooing, the longing for another life. Pilgrim begins his adventure toward redemption with a twofold turning: a turning away from attachment and a turning toward desire. He wanted life and so he stuck his fingers in his ears and ran like a madman (“a fool,” to use Paul’s term) in search of it. The freedom of heart needed to journey comes in the form of detachment. As Gerald May writes in Addiction and Grace,

Detachment is the word used in spiritual traditions to describe freedom of desire. Not freedom from desire, but freedom of desire…. An authentic spiritual understanding of detachment devalues neither desire nor the objects of desire. Instead, it “aims at correcting one’s own anxious grasping in order to free oneself for committed relationship to God.” According to Meister Echhart, detachment “enkindles the heart, awakens the spirit, stimulates our longings, and shows us where God is.”

So, that is what I’m doing. Setting Out on a Journey as a Pilgrim. Detaching from things that could or do get in the way of my relationship with God – that get in the way of my pursuit of him. This detachment is but for a time. In the desert,  I hope to discover which things actually do get in the way and permanently leave behind attachments to them. Once I am out of the desert, it will be time for reattachment but only to certain things. I await God’s direction as to what those are.

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