Wilderness

 

Reflection on Lent 1, Year A

Text focus: Genesis 3:1-7; Psalm 32; Matthew 4:1-11
Click here for biblical texts

 

I cherish wilderness camping in some way off place,
choosing to be alone to recharge,
to hear trees tell me new old things,
to learn from ducks swimming in a mountain lake.

But there is other wilderness, in the city,
in crowds at the mall, at work, at home, wherever,
when I see only myself,
my needs and desires, opinions, truths,
my rules, diet, hopes, prayers,
my God, gods, family,
none other,
when I am sure I am right or best
or scared to admit I’m not,
when I fail to hear knocking on the door
of my soul, when God is standing outside
the window waving Her arms to get my attention
and I keep playing video games, watching HGTV, drinking wine,
pretending, acting as if, temptation does not lurk
because I fail, refuse, to see it.  
Life is tough enough
without attending to messiness all around me,
even within myself.

I stop feeling pain that trails my brother
roaming Baltimore fearing he will be next in a pool of blood,
or fear in the Palestinian child
whose home is demolished by the IDF while he sits
in a school without supplies hearing ugly things
about Jews, or dread stalking the raped woman
not sure anyone will believe her or if they do
they also will believe she asked for it and tell her
she is a murderer if she chooses to abort,
or terror of the undocumented mother
who waits for ICE to pry her from her U.S.-born toddler—
when I cannot see these faces and many like them,
because it seems they are in wilderness,
it is me, I am lost. I am in wilderness,
I am the one who has forgotten
who and where God is
who God expects me to be,
where God asks me to be.
I have given in to the tempter,
I do whatever I want without God,
I think I can fix anything all by myself,
I am the one who lives, who worships, my way,
my country’s way, my party’s way, my company’s way,
even my church’s way,
more than God’s.

 

writing+poetryAbout this poem . . . It is reassuring to focus on Jesus in the wilderness and how he overcame temptation, and perhaps to think he was only there once, but I suspect he was tempted more than this one time recounted in the Gospels.  And when I only pay attention to Jesus’ wilderness time I can forget mine.  But when I am honest, I know I spend a lot of time in wilderness  of my own making, aided by the world around me which lulls me into thinking it is only others who wander there.  Perhaps that is the ultimate temptation.
©Robin Gorsline 2017 FaithfulPoetics.net

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