"Wilderness of Lent"
February 22, 2023, 8:00 AM


For he (God) himself knows whereof we are made;
he remembers that we are but dust.
Our days are like the grass;
we flourish like a flower of the field;
When the wind goes over it, it is gone,
and its place shall know it no more.
Psalm 103:14-16

The firepot is lit. Palm leaves from last year’s celebration of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem are burned. All that is left are fine powder-like ashes. Ashes that are now rubbed into our foreheads with the distressing phrase spoken by God to Adam, “Remember, that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19)

Lent begins anew. There is not much left to say after the powdered ash is worked into our foreheads. Only silence remains. You, me, and God are left in a place called the Wilderness.

The Wilderness is a desert that so powerfully fatigued Jesus, tempted his sanity, and exposed his deepest fears that even Satan felt safe with him. Why not test a man who is lonely, hungry, thirsty, and immensely tired after having wandered through such a foreboding wasteland for forty days and forty nights? Yet, in these forty days, Jesus was shaped and formed for his ministry. He found strength in resisting temptation, and was renewed to focus on the purpose that God had for his life.

In Lent, the Wilderness is also a place for us. Lent is about death . . . the death of the “Me.” Lent is the death of the “I” or the ego. Why?  Because we have forgotten that every decision we make needs to be about God and not us. Lent is about undoing the “I am,” the “I want,” and the echolalia of “me, me, me.” Lent is about dying – dying to self, our selfishness, our self-centeredness, our constant exhibition of conceit, and our lying about an arrogant self.


We rarely enter the Wilderness willingly. Our subconscious knows that it is a place to confront the things we fear the most. In slowing down, our fears rise to the consciousness. Doors to our inner life are opened through the disciplines of fasting, prayer/silent contemplation, and almsgiving. Lent is a rich interlude to learn about ourselves.


Lent is about opening our eyes to the experience that we cannot exist without God. We realize once again that you, I, and God are always connected. Lent pushes us into sacred reality; not just a different reality, but God’s reality.


There is certainly pain in recognizing how far we have yet to go. Yet, remember that there is also a Christ who has gone before us, and will travel with us on our journey through the Wilderness, no matter how long or hard the path.


This is Lent. Welcome again to the blessed journey.


Prayers and Blessings,

Fr. John