The desert is sometimes imposed. Sometimes it is chosen.
In Mark 1:12 it says that the Spirit immediately drove Jesus out into the desert. The verb used is the very same verb used for when Jesus drove out evil spirits. It’s like he didn’t have a choice. It’s like he didn’t have time to think or prepare. Suddenly, he abruptly and violently found himself there and had to deal with it. He not only had to deal with the desert, but with what came with it… wild beasts, Satan, temptation and evil. Here there is darkness, loneliness, uncertainty, doubts, questions, choices, temptation, anguish, alienation, deprivation.
As the gospel of Mark progresses we notice Jesus making his way into the desert by choice. He goes there to escape the clamor of the crowds looking for the next best show. He goes there to escape the vacuous and insular spirituality that infests the land. He goes there to escape the craziness of religious fervor. He goes there to escape the rampant hypocrisy that flatters him on one hand and would murder him with the other. Here, Jesus has learned to live with uncertainty, doubts, questions, temptation, alienation and even deprivation. They’ve become his sanctuary.
I am in a desert now. I can’t decide if I’ve been driven here or if I’ve chosen it. If it’s imposed I’m taking it on. That is my choice. I am acutely aware of uncertainty, doubts, questions, temptation, alienation and deprivation. I am enveloped in darkness and loneliness. But these have become my friends, my sanctuary, my shelter. This is my home. I can be found here more often than not.
But I am waiting for direction. I am waiting for clarity. I am waiting for wisdom on how to assimilate all this and be of compassionate service to every other being.