Tag Archives: T. S. Eliot

I need the desert

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Where shall the word be found, where will the word
Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence
Not on the sea or on the islands, not
On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land,
For those who walk in darkness
Both in the day time and in the night time
The right time and the right place are not here
No place of grace for those who avoid the face
No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice
(TS Eliot in Ash Wednesday)

jesus-in-desertI have been looking forward to Ash Wednesday. I live in a societal atmosphere, among many recovering evangelicals, among the high-flyers of Center City, where depression is constantly repressed and the sunny face of an optomistic false self is plastered over everything in order to sell it. I need a good excuse to be my completely needy self — no economic recovery, no fulfilling my promise through education, no making a name for myself professionally, no perfect children, friends, experiences or body, no religious self-justification, just Jesus and me in the desert. Just Jesus and me honestly facing temptation.

I have been looking forward to being driven by the Spirit into my yearly desert of discipline to help me enter a deeper atmosphere of interior silence where I might hear the word again. It will be hard to stay there — but I am going to do it on vacation, I am going to do it at the birthday parties, I am going to do it when people think Lent is silly or inexplicable, I am going to do it when no one cares if I do it or not, or when they care too much about whether I am succeeding at it, or when they are irritated or embarrassed to be with me. And since I am the pastor, I am going to do it whether anyone shows up to start it with me, or anyone reads the books I suggested, or anyone comes to the PMs.

Jesus needed the desert. I need the desert.