Into The Desert

From “Getting Personal” by Kathy Galloway

Advent, along with Lent, is a time of preparation. During Lent, we accompany Jesus into the desert; we face the wilderness of our own inner landscape to prepare ourselves for the Easter journey of death and resurrection. During Advent, we go with John into the desert to prepare the way to welcome Christ into our hearts and lives anew at Christmas. We have the opportunity to explore the inner geography of our lives for areas of dead wood, thorns or tangled knots. Twisted relationships, the dead wood of old hurts or habits, the confusion that sometimes comes when we feel we can't see the wood for the trees, all these are wilderness areas, and they need to be cleared away before growth and new life is possible. Or perhaps there are desert patches, arid, dry areas where nothing can grow or blossom, parts of us which have withered away from not being used or tended or tested that need the water of life to bring them bursting into flower.

If we have desert or wilderness places within us (and which of us do not?), Advent is a good time to prepare for new life, for the birth of Christ within us, to clear the way so that we have more courageous self-examination, more open hearts, more receptive spirits, more loving kindness towards ourselves and others. We don’t and can’t know what that will mean for us, and it will probably not be what we expect, but when that call to worship, to accept, and to walk the road of love comes again with renewed vigour, we want to be prepared, to be
ready.

And the first necessity for our walking the way of love is that we should be on our feet.

“Rise from the dust, undo the chains that bind you,” says Isaiah.

“Be awake and sober,” says Jesus.

We can’t walk sitting down, far less crumpled in a heap. To stand up very often means to stand out, and to stand up for the way of love is not, it seems, a very acceptable stance at the moment. Nevertheless, by grace, it is both our calling and our charism, our gift, our freedom. Let us encourage and support one another to embrace our calling and our freedom this Advent.

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