We are grateful to our own Wanda Kidd for sharing with us her “Observations From The Desert”, written last year about her sabbatical. Check back here Monday – Thursday during Lent for new devotions.
Genesis 1:1. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
During the Lenten season of 2020, I was on a sabbatical journey. The trip was very much like how the earth was created. Just supplant the word journey for earth in Genesis 1:1 and you get the picture of the plan.
Over the previous five years, I had experienced significant loss of family and hope. I did not want plans for the trip to impede the spirit. I needed space for the darkness in my life to be free to penetrate the healing process. I wanted time and permission to live into the darkness until light could burst through it naturally. I wanted to ride with my pain until it began to subside and to no longer have to make up responses to “how was I feeling ?” During the trip those moments would sometimes be bright shafts of light, and other times, it was a slow illumination. Regardless of how it arrived, I wanted to be able to embrace it and absorb into my soul, bit by bit, so that I was healed from the inside out.
Within hours of that day in January, when I pulled out in my truck and camper, the fear and anxiety that had plagued me for weeks began to lift. I was so excited for this adventure, but my dreams were filled with doubt, in the nights leading up to the trip. What on earth was I doing? I was a five foot tall, sixty something year old woman with no camping experience or athletic ability, heading out alone to explore the unknown. Who does that? A crazy woman surrounded by people who believed that not only could she do this, but it was important for her to live into the adventure. Those believers never wavered in their encouragement. Though they probably had their doubts as well, they never imposed those misgivings on me.
So on January 10, 2020 a group of friends and family met me for breakfast at the Wagon Wheel Restaurant in Mars Hill to wish me well and say a prayer. Then I was off! In my excitement that morning, I had already forgotten to unplug the camper from my garage outlet and drug the 25 feet of power cord down Main Street. Thankfully, it was a friend who followed, flashing his lights and helped me wind up the cord and stuff it in the camper before we caused a traffic jam.
I only planned a five hour drive for the first day, but I miscalculated the time difference and the shortened daylight between home and central Tennessee. So the first night, I had to set up my camper in the dark, the cold, and the wet. That was followed the next day by a tornado warning and the flooding of the camp ground. While that was quite a beginning, followed by some lovely visits with family and friends for the first couple of weeks, it was the desert that taught me the most about myself, grief, and unexpected beauty and healing.
These Lenten devotions are reflections on some of the wonders that spoke to me while I wandered the desert. I hope they offer new insights, new framing and space for your own personal insights. Peace and Grace,
Romans 13:11-13 11 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we first believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let’s rid ourselves of the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. —NASB
I will admit that I have seen many more sunsets than sunrises in my life. I am not a great morning person. If you want to spend time with me with little to no conversation, then make arrangements to meet at 6:30 am. However, there was no real way to stay in bed too long in a campground because I would say my aversion to early rising is an anomaly amongst the camping set. The few people who were in the campgrounds during those winter months were up and moving long before the sun rose.
As usual, I was late getting to my campground one night. I arrived at my reserved campsite in total darkness and set up with a flashlight. Exhausted after a long day, I climbed up into the elevated sleeping loft and immediately fell asleep, but at daybreak, a flock of honking geese awoke me with a start. As I looked out the window beside my bed, what I saw was an amazingly beautiful sunrise. All around me was a foggy mist that had a golden glow and a mystical feel. What I also saw was that my campsite was surrounded by water on three sides and I had come very close to backing into a lake the night before.
The splendor of the sunrise was held in tension with the realization that choosing to live in darkness can put me and others on the precipice of danger. I would love to tell you that I learned my lesson and made arrangements to set up only in the light, but like the children of Israel, I am slow to learn my lessons. Jesus is always trying to move us toward the light. Yet, so often we choose to set up camp in the dark. Then, when the light comes, we are always surprised by the perilous situations in which we find ourselves.
Prayer: Oh patient and illuminating God, forgive me for continuing to squander the light you relentlessly offer me in the reality of Jesus. Help me to seek the newness of each day with the assurance that you always meet me there and continue to overcome the darkness I so often choose. Amen.