A couple of weeks ago, I had a chance to be traveling back from the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress (LAREC) in Anaheim.
The flight from west coast to east coast, as anyone who has done it can attest, is long and, in the best of situations, uneventful, with sleep, a bit of food, maybe a movie or a book to break the monotony.
But, of all things at 10,000 feet on a clear cloudless day, I did not expect to have what I experienced – a spiritual moment.
Maybe I was thinking about Mass earlier that day for the second Sunday of Lent. But soon after the plane took off and after it initially traveled west over the ocean before then banking east, I looked down to see a desert, part of the almost 48,000-square-mile Mojave Desert, as far as I could see in all directions (on both sides of the plane).
I was transported to the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke and to Jesus spending 40 days and 40 nights in the desert wilderness before the beginning of his public ministry.
I tried to imagine being lost in that vastness for 40 minutes, let alone 40 hours or 40 days, and how I would have likely taken the deal, offered by the devil to Jesus, to “command these stones to become loaves of bread” (Mt. 4.3). And while I am aware that, as Jesus replied, quoting the Old Testament, “Man shall not live by bread alone,” I know I would have been so focused on my own physical needs and wants not to have had that thought that Jesus had foremost in my mind.
But on that plane, for maybe for one of the few times in my life even for a few brief moments, looking over that desert, I could really feel how alone and small one can be without others and without God.
There are a number of works from Franciscan Media Books that can serve as nourishment for our faith journey during those dry times of our life, whether at Lent or another time. Among those include: Joseph Girzone’s Stories of Jesus: 40 Days of Prayer and Reflection, Ron Rolheiser’s Prayer: Our Deepest Longing, Richard Rohr’s Silent Compassion: Finding God in Contemplation, Franciscan Dan Horan’s The Last Words of Jesus: A Meditation on Love and Suffering and Rory Cooney’s Change Our Hearts: Daily Meditations for Lent.
How are you nourishing your soul during Lent?
* * *
Photo top: The Mohave Desert as seen from a flight in March. (Photo by Mark Lombard)