Take the 5 minutes to watch this video, with the artwork of Si Smith, from the UK. I am touched by his representation of what Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness might have been like. Here, on the first week in Lent, our Gospel reading tends to be the temptation in the wilderness story – Jesus has been 40 days in the wilderness with out food. And the devil (in Greek the translation would be the Slanderer) comes to tempt him – offering food, power, and safety. Jesus rebukes him. But, those 40 days in the wilderness slide off the screen of our lives so quickly. Why was he there? What was it like? What did he learn?
The video containing Mr. Smith’s images is evocative. The scriptures say Jesus was ‘driven into the wilderness by the Spirit’ – he was compelled, he needed to do it. Have you ever been compelled in a likewise manner? Compelled to seek out a retreat for your soul? or for your body? Mundane it may be, but I have heard myself mutter, “I’ve got to make time to get a pedicure” It’s not just that my toes look awful, but the time spent – 30 minutes to an hour – where I cannot run around and do other things – is a gift. We need to give ourseles the gift of time, of respite, of focus.
In the pictures in the video, Jesus is enthralled by the world around him, as he begins his 40 days without distractions. He finds beauty in small things, and rests. But, before his 40 days are through, he begins to tire. He hungers. He thirsts. The angels must keep watch – he is in a fragile state. And that’s when the devil comes to offer him power, food, and safety. But the spirit remains and Jesus resists. The angels carry him back to safety, back to life at the end of the 40 days.
So, how does this translate for you and for me? Get away. Get away from your distractions, from the constant nagging at you that comes from your job, your house, your family. As much as you love and appreciate your job, your house, your family, they are wearing you out. Be filled with the spirit, and step away. Recharge. Give yourself the space to think, to feel, to remember that you belong to God.
How, you ask? well, you know best about your life, but I offer you the idea of starting small – how about with prayer? Do you pray every day? Most of us would like to do this, but actually don’t. Pray when you put on your shoes. 30 seconds. As your day begins. Pray. Here’s one way to start –
A Prayer of Shoes
Lord, as I put on these shoes today, be with me. As I get ready to enter the journey of my day, walk with me. Bless these shoes with compassion for others, patience for the day’s frustrations, and a spirit of wonder for the opportunities you will offer me today. Take away from me the concerns and worries of my life, God, I give them to you today. Fill these shoes with friendship, and reaching out. Take away all my complaining and sour outlook. Let every step I take in these shoes today remind me of who I am and whose I am – Yours, Loving Father. Amen.
May your Lenten days bless you.