2nd Sun Advent C
Reflection is an essential element of our growth in Christ. As we reflect over what we have learnt and ponder it in our hearts, we come to recognise the presence of God in our lives.
This Sunday's Reflection
I recently read Wild; from Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. Yes, the surname is peculiar – she took it on herself, after a particularly unstable part of her life. She had messed up. At the time she set out to walk part of the PC Trail, a wilderness walk that stretches through the mountains of the West Coast of North America, she had no experience of backpacking. With no training, carrying a pack of over 50 pounds and wearing a pair of boots a size to small, and which would cost her 6 toenails, she walked over 1100 miles, yes, miles not kms, alone. The positive thing to say about Strayed is that she stuck to this track, largely. Occasionally she sensibly altered her plans. Yet, no matter how wonderful the scenery, nor glorious the weather, at some point in each and every day, the walk became a slog where, tempted to give up, it took every effort to put one foot in front of another and then again. Her personal, and even spiritual, transformation was intensely entwined with learning the sheer physical disciplines of survival: filtering water, watching out for snakes and bears, etc. Through these small daily practices she not only survived but discovered her own voice.
If you are going to hear a voice crying in the wilderness, you have to go out into the wilderness and remain there. To encounter our personal wilderness, most of us do not have to do anything as extreme as Strayed. Our marriages, our relationships, our work, our study, our health can lead us to confront our own personal liabilities, where our hardest wilderness is found. The basic requirement to have the wilderness yield its wisdom to us is to be faithful to it as a wilderness. In our society we have so many opportunities to mask the pain: drugs, drink, mindless TV or internet surfing – the list goes on. While these may seem necessary indulgences, ultimately they will undermine our quest. We will not get to see the valleys filled in, the mountains laid low, nor the salvation of God in our midst, if we do not daily, and with difficulty, allow ourselves to be humbled in the wilderness.