What Wilderness is All About
By The Rev. Warren Murphy
It’s autumn where I live in the beautiful state of Wyoming. The day is spectacular. It’s the kind of day that calls you into the wilderness of the backcountry just to soak up the beauty. For me, it’s the kind of day to head for the badlands with my trusty dog.
On a day like this you can experience the peacefulness of nature. The sky is a deep blue. The autumn growth and the badlands are a brilliant red, and there is a gentle breeze from the north. Some days nature shows its other side…wind, snow, sleet and cold. But today I’m experiencing its peaceful side.
Sitting on a bluff overlooking this desert basin, my thoughts drift to the rest of the world beyond. The day’s news is heavy with violence and fear. The war in Afghanistan drags on and a senseless conflict rages in Syria. School shootings have become the new American norm. The nation is thinking up new ways to combat the possibility of terrorism. It seems the fear of terrorism is almost as strong as terror itself.
Living in the midst of this troubled world calls for a dose of heavy medicine. The cure I seek this day is a trip to the wilderness where I find a refreshing respite from human insanity. This is an opportunity to get back in touch with the Creator. This is a chance to spend a bit of time with the God of all creation. If I listen carefully, I can hear a divine voice in that gentle breeze.
The biblical author many years ago summed it up best. “The Lord is in his holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before him” (Hab. 2:20). Or yet again, “The Earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it” (Ps. 24:11). Being reminded of this I take comfort in the fact that the world has seen perilous times before and that God has provided wise solutions for all who turn to the divine source.
My journey into the wilderness was well worth it. My day in the desert recharged my soul. This is the reason so many people have worked to provide places of wilderness. It is a space for healing and renewal. I am grateful that a half century ago a Wilderness Act was passed to preserve such places. But I am also aware that my “day away” is not an escape. I must return to the human world of failed doings. However, I don’t return empty handed. I carry a dose of the Creator’s peaceful presence back with me.
Jesus spent forty days and nights living in the wilderness so he could test himself against the human world. His desert sojourn gave him strength to do his ministry. This is a lesson for each and every one of us. The best time we can spend may well be the time spent quietly with our God in our own wilderness place. If we did this more often, my guess is that we would all discover true peace in our lives.
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