Archive for February, 2023

“Stay tuned … another series will come when the Lenten season begins.”

That’s what I wrote at the completion of advent. But then, death …

I was pre-grieving then, even though my goal was to not. My goal was to live and let live … let my dying brother feel that those who love him saw him as fully alive, not as a corpse-in-waiting. Eventually I was able to do that, but that is a story for another day.

Today, I begin my walk through this Lenten season.

Today … a few days late.

The ashes of Wednesday I did not submit to wearing on my forehead … for the ashes of death are still so thick, so real on my heart. When we grieve we wear them on every moment of our days and nights, even into our dreams. They come with us to work, to do our errands, as we walk our wild ones, as the waters of our showers mix with our tears and cascade down our cheeks. They are always there, in our laughter and silence, day and night, even in the joys and beauty of our daily experience.

Lent is the season that mirrors the time that Jesus spent in the wilderness. In these forty days we walk through the dry, barren place that he walked. We might even withhold something from our days that would otherwise bring us joy, delight. We think on the temptations in our own lives, even considering that phrase, so common a generation ago, what would Jesus do?

Lent is what the season of advent felt like, in my soul. It was dry, rough. Though food was plentiful, nothing seemed to satisfy. Temptations were in the form of discouragement, doubt, hopelessness and that previously mentioned pre-grief. Sleep was uncomfortable, never giving the rest needed to feel refreshed. An unquenchable thirst accompanied me all day, every day.

“Then Jesus was led
by the Spirit
into the wilderness …”

Why God?

Why would you allow us to walk this no-man’s-land. Why would you send your Spirit to lead us though this barren wasteland of grief?


No answers. No big picture explanation. No Pollyanna simplified response with a cherry on top.

This desert reminds me of the lessons of a Bible teacher our kids had, on the Bohu and Tohu … wild and waste, of Creation (Genesis 1:2). That aptly describes the journey of grief … wild and waste. This is where Creation began, from which newness and life emerged … out of the dark.

There is another commonality of death, of the desert, of wild and waste …

The Spirit is present.

As Jesus was led into the desert, as we are stumbling though the wild and waste of grief, the Spirit is there, is here. He accompanied Jesus through his forty days and nights of wild and waste and he will stay close to us as we walk through our own deserts, our very barren places.


We do not understand this foreign land, this wild and waste. We do not like being in this desert, where there is so much lack, so much missing from our lives. We do not understand why the Holy Spirt would lead Jesus through the desert and we do not understand why our loved ones died, why we must grieve.

In the wild and waste of Creation, your word says that the Spirit of God hovered.

In the desert with Jesus, the Spirit of God was there too.

And so, we trust, that though we are walking through this valley of the Shadow of Death, you are here with us also.


A gracious Sabbath stood here while they stood
Who gave our rest a haven.
Now fallen, they are given
To labor and distress.
These times we know much evil, little good
To steady us in faith
And comfort when our losses press
Hard on us, and we choose,
In panic or despair or both,
To keep what we will lose.

For we are fallen like the trees, our peace
Broken, and so we must
Love where we cannot trust,
Trust where we cannot know,
And must await the wayward-coming grace
That joins living and dead,
Taking us where we would not go–
Into the boundless dark.
When what was made has been unmade
The Maker comes to His work.

Wendell Berry


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