Lent, although a recent addition to my spiritual practices has been a rich and rewarding season of self discovery on many levels. A time to consider how I let go of some familiar indulgences in order to make room for some fresh perspectives outside of my privileged lifestyle, a type of fast that detoxes my comfort zone and status quo, in order to see the world in a new way.
This year however has been an ambivalent experiment, a mix of contradictory feelings that has resulted in me being unable to settle into a healthy rhythm of focus. Twenty four days in and I was still looking for some kind of personal meaning to this sacred season.
Over this last weekend I was invited to go over to Kawau Island for a 2 day fishing trip, and even though this is not a huge leisure activity in my life, what ensued was a wilderness experience that finally connected me to my 2017 storyline of Lent.
At once, this same Spirit pushed Jesus out into the wild For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by Satan. Wild animals were his companions, and angels took care of him.
- Mark 1:12
Kawau became a momentary ‘wilderness’, my place of spiritual refuge, an untamed space that would capture my attention and challenge my perspective for the season. This beautiful remote Island sitting off the Mahurangi coastline, is home to some 300 residents, a Wallaby reservation and two thirds of our nations Weka population, our indigenous hen. While settling into the serenity of the Island my life was interrupted by this inquisitive, feisty, flightless bird as it pranced around the property as if to remind me that I was an illegal alien on their sacred soil.
Just like Jesus was accompanied by the wild animals, I found myself invited into the storyline of Lent as this wild Weka became my companion, reminding me of the possibility of angelic care that was closer than I could imagine, all the testy moments of the last two weeks suddenly making sense to some degree.
Lent is about the companionship of the wild, the wilderness of unknowing and uncertainty that needs to be embraced without full explanation. When we pass the test that resting in serenity invites, our equilibrium returns and we feel the care of divine providence overshadowing our life.
Sigurd F. Olsen, the president of the American wilderness society said… “Wilderness to the people of the America is a spiritual necessity, an antidote to the high pressure of modern life, a means of regaining serenity and equilibrium.”
Companionship and care are equivalent to serenity and equilibrium the perfect antidote for the wilderness seasons of our life, times when we are tested by the stressful expectations of the culture.
St Paul when writing to the Corinthian church talks of his wilderness experience, phrasing it a messenger of Satan that buffeted his life, a terrorising experience that extracted a desperate plea for relief from God. The reply of the divine was not what he was expecting, a rather ambiguous and vague statement!
'My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.'
Grace is divine intervention in our life, transcendent support that comes to aid our weakness, that might look like serenity and equilibrium, or companionship and care.
However grace may appear to you, keep your eyes open for creation metaphors that walk into your season to remind you that God is a very present help in times of trouble, not necessarily to change the situation but to be the support you need as you go through it. If the ancients could use a dove as a spirit metaphor then I am sure they would be ok with me using the Weka.
'Come Holy Spirit'