Wilderness is present on many occasions throughout scripture. The wilderness experience runs deep with the people of God as scripture describes the journey of the people of Israel through the desert to the Promised Land. In Australia we are fighting to preserve what we describe as wilderness, both rugged mountain ranges with their rivers and foliage, and the vast open spaces of wilderness deserts. Today we are increasingly recognising the importance of wilderness as spiritual spaces as well as of sustenance and renewal in our rapidly expanding urban environment.
Following his Baptism by John, Jesus is led by the spirit into the wilderness where he is tested, rejects the call to embrace power, status and wealth and instead proclaims his mission to the outcast, the disadvantaged and all who are shunned or rejected.
In the wilderness we are able to take stock, reflect and refuel ourselves on many fronts. I like to travel into the outback and sit under the stars and marvel at the beauty of creation and the wonder of the Milky Way. I find it restores my soul, releases me from cynicism and disillusionment with many aspects of contemporary society, and restores my hope.
What place does wilderness have in your life? Are you able to find a wilderness time and space for your own reflection and preparations at this busy time of the year? Are you able to find the time to prepare the way of the Lord? Yes we are all fragile and less than perfect but also have the capacity for others to see good in our lives and the possibility of the new heaven and earth. The wilderness can provide the space and the occasion for this experience.