Sunday 22 February 2009

Into the wilderness with Jesus

wetherlam wilderness At once, this same Spirit pushed Jesus out into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by Satan. Wild animals were his companions, and angels took care of him. (Mark 1:12-13)

If like me you yearn for wild places you will see the upside of journeying through wilderness. Taken in the context of our own imaginative faith journey through Lent, the subject of the wild is particularly pertinent. In his book 'The Wild Places', Robert Macfarlane posed this question: "would it be possible to make a series of journeys in search of the wild places that remained in Britain and Ireland? " In the course of 321 spellbinding pages he describes the answer. Towards the end of the book he says something which opens out a helpful way of reflecting upon our  journey with Jesus into wilderness:

"We are fallen in mostly broken pieces, I thought, but the wild can still return us to ourselves."

The idea of being returned to ourselves is a profoundly spiritual one which resonates strongly with Lent and Easter. Reflecting on his experience of wildness and wilderness Macfarlane offers this insight:

"In their stripped-back austerity, their fierce elementality, these landscapes remained invaluable in their power to awe. But I had learned to see another type of wildness, to which I had once been blind: the wildness of natural life, the sheer force of ongoing organic existence, vigorous and chaotic. This wildness was not about asperity, but about luxuriance, vitality, fun. The weed thrusting through the a crack in a pavement, the tree root impudently cracking a carapace of tarmac: these were wild signs, as much as the storm wave and the snowflake."

I like this way of appreciating wildness. I find echoes here of the wildness of God and of wild faith, which breaks out from and breaks through all that confines, stifles and inhibits human flourishing. Perhaps this connecting with the wild love of God makes wilderness / wildness an essential pre-requisite for faith explorers everywhere. Especially those who long to return to themselves.

I shall explore this theme of 'Into the Wilderness with Jesus' in a series of five short reflections, each based on a carefully chosen image

1 comment:

  1. The wild places, the wilderness, a sanctuary - a time to refresh - to meditate-the vast openness of space-finding GOD there - renewing-rejuvenating- atonement with HIM who is our SAVIOUR.
    Thank you for these series of pictures and words.