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by Laura Thornton

I am drawn most years to the image of wilderness as meditative and filled with prayer. The peace and quiet of the desert is calming during Lent. Jesus went into the wilderness and stood his ground against evil. He leaned into God and held steady against that which tried to separate him from God.

During this Lent, however, the wilderness has taken on a new meaning. It is not the vast expanse where I can get away, pray, and rest. Instead it is chaotic, frenetic, scary.

As I write today, I’m aware of my own feelings of chaos and anxiety. There is so much going on, so much to keep track of, such deep sadness. There is news all around us of people who are hurt and people choosing to hurt others. There is hunger, despair, longing. I feel the wilderness has come to me. It has invaded my being, set up house and I cannot escape it.

And in the midst, Jesus gives me another way; an example of standing firm on the most important things, letting go of the not so important things and leaning into God to face the fear and chaos of it all. I have had this poem by John O’Donohue attached to my email this Lenten season. It is helping me remember to breathe, and let go. Our Lenten journey can be a difficult one. I invite you to lean into God to steady your way.

May all that is unforgiven in you
Be released.

May your fears yield
Their deepest tranquilities.

May all that is unlived in you
Blossom into a future
Graced with love.

— John O’Donohue