Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Desert Experience

When I was driving to work yesterday, it was pouring down rain. Even though I dislike driving in the rain, I was very happy to see it. It rained much of the morning but not nearly enough. We need more rain desperately. Much of the country is experiencing drought conditions. Obviously, the lack of rain is causing much dryness. When I was on the farm this past weekend where the pumpkin patch is, I noticed many irrigation lines. I'm sure the lack of rain has been especially hard on farmers. In some places, however, even the city dwellers are feeling the pain as lakes and reservoirs reach new and dangerous levels. The dryness that we are experiencing in nature is sometimes felt in our lives. In the history of Christianity there is a "desert" spirituality that goes back to the 2nd and 3rd century. In those days men and women left the cities and headed to the desert to find God in the barren wastelands. In our modern lives this desert spirituality can manifest itself as dryness and an absence of spiritual consolations. In the 14th century a famous spiritual masterpiece was written entitled "The Cloud of Unknowing". It speaks about the experience of knowing God by unknowing. In other words, it is in the unknowing, the darkness, the dryness, and the void that seems empty of obvious experiences of God that we might be most likely to experience the true reality of God. We tend to think that all experiences of God are warm and fuzzy and peaceful. They can be but if that was the only time we experienced God, we would be limiting God to only a portion of our lives. My life is sometimes warm and fuzzy and peaceful but it is also occasionally stressful, demanding, busy, empty feeling and unclear in it's direction and meaning. God is in it all. He is in the rain as well as the dryness. Don't be afraid of the desert or the void. God is closer than you think and everything has a purpose. Never judge the experience of God by how it feels.

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