Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Desert Experiences

Desert Experiences

Living in a desert would change our attitudes toward life. Desert living demands getting down to the essentials of staying alive. Rich foods and drinks have to go; desert travelers survive on water and simple food-or they don’t survive at all. Being overweight is dangerous. Each person must drop to maintenance weight and calorie intake. Clothes? No room for fancy gowns or suits; only simple, sturdy protection from the burning sun and the nighttime cold.
All activity in the desert has to be slow-or else living things collapse from exertion. Energy is reserved for the essentials that maintain life. Little pleasures are the only pleasures. Little things therefore, count a lot: a handful dates, a drink of water, a spot of shade.
Getting one’s bearing is everything-because getting lost means death. Everything in the desert looks alike at first. But soon one can appreciate how different two rocks are, or two scrub trees, or two hills. What would pass unnoticed in another place or time gets noticed and noted in the desert. Little differences are appreciated.
One little place or oasis can’t support life for long. So most people who live in the desert are nomads, people on the move. They move to survive. Moving on-slowly-is a way of life.
The desert is a lonely place. There is little noise to distract one from thought. Although too much desert silence could be dangerous, a certain amount of it can call us face what is important in our lives. Desert silence provides time to listen to life and to ourselves. The desert calls us to speak only about what counts.
A desert attitude can prepare us for prayer. Sometimes we may be given a desert experience through a loss that leaves us empty enough to listen. Sometimes a desert experience is thrust upon us by illness, giving us time for nothing but listening. Or we can create a desert experience by making time to reflect in a busy and sometimes crazy world.
The desert experience gives an opportunity to listen to God. To listen to another is to forget self, to notice one person. To listen means to be open, to let go of my thoughts for the moment, to give up for a while on what I want to say.
To hear GOD we must regularly make a little silence. In that silence, I can hear the thousand ways God speaks to me each day in everything and everybody. Without some desert time alone with God, I may miss many of God’s messages in life.

The following may guide us to reflect upon God’s goodness in our Desert Experience:
1. If you have had any desert experiences in your life, name them.
2. How did each desert experience help you (or hinder you) from hearing God better in your life?
3. What qualities of the desert do you personally need so that you may hear God better in your life?
4. How can you give yourself what you need?

Fast… and Feast

Fast from worry, and feast on divine order by trusting in God.
Fast from complaining, and fest on appreciation.
Fast from negatives, and feast on affirmatives.
Fast from unrelenting pressures, and feast for unceasing prayer.
Fast from hostility, and feast on non-resistance.
Fast from bitterness, and feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern, feast on compassion for others.
Fast from shadows of sorrow, and feast on the sunlight of serenity.
Fast from idle gossip, and feast on purposeful silence.
Fast from judging others, and feast on the Christ within them.
Fast from emphasis on differences, and feast on the unity of life.
Fast from apparent darkness, and feast on the reality of light.
Fast from thoughts of illness, and feast on the healing power of God.
Fast from words that pollute, feast on phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent, and feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger, and feast on optimism
Fast from personal anxiety, and feast on eternal truth.
Fast from discouragement, and feast on hope.
Fast from facts that depresses, feast on verities that uplift.
Fast from lethargy, and feast on enthusiasm.
Fast on suspicion, and feast on truth.
Fast from thoughts that weaken, and feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from problems that overwhelm, and feast on prayer that offers solution.

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