I remember the childhood strategy to spelling a tricky word: “Why is dessert spelled with two ‘s’s’? Because you always want two servings.”
Well, I’d like to spell desert with two “s’s.”
“I want two servings of desert, please,” I ask with outstretched plate.
I want two servings of quiet.
I want two servings of reflection.
Yes, I want to be cut off from the abundance of modern life, and fully connected to the thin place the desert can offer, to enter into a double offering of closeness to God.
Double offering of stillness.
Double offering of reality.
Double offering of honesty.
How did life become so fast, so frenzied? I yearn for the stillness that the desert brings.
The air is still, the people are still, the hills are still, the vegetation is still, the dirt is still.
Some look at the desert and see death and stagnation.
I look at the desert and see stopping and quiet and reflection and pause and breathing.
There I hear my respiration. I feel my heart beating. In the stillness, my thoughts are free to move outside of me – outside of self. No longer preoccupied, I see creation; birds, bugs, animals. The stuff that is always going on around me without my notice. The peaceful rhythm that nature is.
The world is full of man-crafted devices, of machines – moving, whirring, spinning, moving, going, getting, gaining.
My body is a God-crafted device, made for life in a garden; a place where “green things thrive.” Where I am needed to attend and to notice. To see, and to experience the masterpiece of a flower, of the complexities of a bee, of the delicate intricacies of a butterfly.
So, will I answer the call to retreat? The call of the wilderness? Will I intentionally move into the thin space? Will I approach the veil and allow myself to be still and just breathe? Quietly? Within the beating of my own heart? My heart, a soft and fleshy 7 pounds of blob. A blob that God causes to contract as it pulses and pushes blood through my fleshy frame, my weak, easily damaged frame.
I will answer the call. I will make my bed, put my papers in order, fill my gas-efficient auto with fuel and travel to the mountains – intentionally moving away from the world. I will go further up and further in. Why? Why this counter-cultural move? Because I am called. I have set my heart to listening, osculta, listening with the ear of my heart, and so I hear, and so I must obey.
I have lived ignoring that call; years of simply listening to myself, and to the world. I should have ignored the world. I listened because expectations compelled me. Inside I knew I wasn’t smart enough to know how to lead myself – and now I rest in knowing that I am not.
I have searched and I have found the One I can trust. Rather I have been found by Him. He was calling me in my search. He is the One I can follow, He cannot disappoint, for He knows not how.
So, deep in listening, I have no other option but to follow.
He calls me to the desert.
A place with two “s’s” to my mind.
Two “s’s” because I desire a double helping of the fullness there.
The fullness of the thinness.
The world offers a fullness that is empty.
The desert offers a thinness that is full.
Full of Him – empty of me.
Thick with meaning – devoid of chaos.
Quivering with potential – but only potential, until I answer.
Will I answer?
Will I enter?