“The call of the wilderness is a call to see beyond the obvious, to reach out for the invisible, and to put our trust in God. It is not a hiding place, but a place where all is revealed.”
Wilderness spirituality is not primarily a geography, but a metaphor. While our geographic location can support a movement into solitude, it is not essential. We have all experienced wildernesses within cities, groups, and personal crises. These are all opportunities for deeper encounter with God, whether we seek them or they are imposed upon us.
We receive the wilderness tradition from the scriptures. And we can see that salvation history begins in a garden and ends in the city of God with lots of detours into the wilderness in between. It is in the wilderness that Moses encounters God. Jesus was tested in the wilderness. An entire nation was led through the wilderness to find its new identity.
Retreating into a wilder landscape may remind us of our humanity as children of the earth. Pausing at the edges of untamed land gives a new awareness of just how wild our hearts long to be.
My early experiences of God were in the wilderness at the edge of the mountains. Fast moving rivers broke through tundra, lifted their voices at Spring break up, and entered reverential silence during winter. I learned earth’s rhythms of worship and still hear the echoes of river song in the liturgy of the church.
Why wilderness? The wild places teach us some things we need to know about ourselves as Beloved of God. We will remember who we are and Whose we are as we engage with wilderness scripture, and touch into the sacred ground upon which we live our lives.