The Desert of Our Lives
In the Gospel for the 3rd Sunday of Advent, John writes about a man who was sent by God (John 1:6-8, 19-28). He is “the voice of one crying out in the desert”. His message is clear: “make straight the way of the Lord”. The voice is John the Baptist, who recognizes Jesus and comes to testify to the light. The Baptist’s time spent in the desert prepared him for his ministry of preparing the way for our Savior.
The desert is a wasteland of wide open spaces filled with silence and solitude, where land is untouched and life is simple. In earlier Biblical times it was often believed that demons lived in the desert and they could be met and fought. It doesn’t take a camel ride into the desert to realize that demons can be found here and the fighting tests our strength. It’s usually a battle that is fought alone. But isn’t that how it is in life? The “desert” of our own lives can be a time when we feel like we are living in a wasteland or emptiness and it feels like there is nothing in front of us and we can’t see where we have been.
There are many people who wander around in this kind of a desert for years, maybe even a lifetime, struggling to understand the disappointments in life, of failed relationships, illness, financial stress and unemployment. All of these things can put our faith to a test. If we can try to think of these struggles as a time in the desert, taking time to be alone in prayer and contemplation, maybe we can see the beauty of the many oasis’ in the desert and in our lives.
St. Paul’s words can help keep us centered in our faith. His words in the 2nd Reading (1 Thess 5:16-24) remind us to “rejoice always and pray without ceasing. Test everything; retain what is good.” This is the only way to help get us through the dryness of the desert and “make straight the way of the Lord”. Karen Curjel