Vulnerability in the Soul’s Desert

See Soulwork Toward Sunday: self-guided retreat
Advent 2 (year c), December 9, 2012
“How Long?”

The following is an excerpt from the text “A Geography of Grace” a slide show of the Christian Year, a new retreat I developed this past summer. If you are interested in my giving this retreat to your parish or organization contact me –

Advent II (excerpt)

El Greco, 1577-79

El Greco, 1577-79

The word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Luke 3:2b-4

Having entered the Portal of the Last Judgment,

rather than finding myself the narthex of a great cathedral,

my Soul finds herself in a desert wilderness –

a dangerous place, a place of spirits, wild beasts and demons,

of hardship, of testing.


Master of the Life of John the Baptist, 1330-40

Master of the Life of John the Baptist, 1330-40

A place I am utterly vulnerable, like a child.

I come here, away from distractions of my life,

to come to know myself at the core.

I am not alone.

John the Baptist, in a parallel to the mythic hero’s journey,

is the threshold guardian here.

Clothed in camel’s hair, living on “locusts and wild honey”

John lives on whatever the wilderness provides for him.

Carravaggio, 1607-08

Carravaggio, 1607-08

He is utterly vulnerable, dependent upon God.

In this I want to be like him, in his humility, his trust in God.

The desert is a landscape I need to get used to

and learn to love

and come back to again and again.

Here I learn to avoid distraction,

learn to begin the process of continual conversion toward God.

Domenico Veneziano, c.1445

Domenico Veneziano, c.1445

Here I confront those things that get in the way of my loving God,

and God’s love for me. 


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