Book Bits: The desert experience

May 7, 2007 | 1 comment

My husband and I have our own little version of a book club going on, which basically consists of me reading a lot of books and telling him about what I learned. He’s so wiped out at the end of his long work days that he’s often not up for reading, so he’s enjoyed hearing about all the great stuff I’ve discovered in my books.

I realized last night that the various passages I highlight to share with him might be enjoyed by my readers here as well (and, OK, they make for easy updates). So I think I’ll start regularly posting some of my favorite excerpts from what I’m reading.

I’ll start with the book I just finished, Pope Benedict’s Journey to Easter. He begins his Lenten meditations by describing the importance of the “desert experience” in the spiritual journey:

Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert…What does this surprising guide intend? Let us reflect a little on what is meant by “the desert.”

The desert is a place of silence, of solitude. It is the absence of the exchanges of daily life, its noise and its superficiality. The desert is the place of the absolute, the place of freedom, which sets man before the ultimate demands. Not by chance is the desert the place where monotheism began. In that sense it is a place of grace. In putting aside all preoccupations we encounter our Creator.

Great things have their beginnings in the desert, in silence, in poverty. It is not possible to share in the mission of Jesus, in the mission of the Gospel, without sharing in the desert experience, its poverty, its hunger. That beautiful hunger for justice of which the Lord speaks in the Sermon on the Mount cannot be born in the fullness of satiety.

This book is meant to be read during Lent, and this passage is part of the topic of fasting and penance during that period. Yet I find that I think of it often in my daily life, that I notice that I often feel closest to God when I fully realize how fleeting the material comforts of this world really are.

1 Comment

  1. Lynne

    I bought that last year during Lent. I didn’t finish it then but will add it back to the pile I’m currently working on…

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