love in the desert

The week with you in the desert was not what I expected. I always pictured it as a desolate place. A place of emptiness. And loneliness. An absence of goodness and hope and sound.

But it wasn’t that, was it?

When the Spirit led you into the desert, you were not dropped off and abandoned. Holy Spirit never left you.

How could I have imagined, without you, that those 40 days involved this scene: a bonfire and mirth and story after story of your Dad—his character and his laughter and his adventures in creating all that is beautiful and wild and good?

I couldn’t see this on my own.

Now I admit, while I watched, I didn’t hear every inside joke the two of you shared. But thank you for letting me gather close so I could hear the fire crackling in the night and the sound of your voices as you both sat cross-legged. Leaning in, leaning in, leaning in.

When it was late, your body weak from lack of food, you laid down on your side on the ground, a rock for a pillow, and Holy Spirit sang you to sleep. In the middle of the night, when the temperature grew cold, he covered you a garment to keep you warm. And he kissed your forehead. And he stayed next to you. All night, Keeping you safe while you slept.

When the 40 days had ended, Satan came to tempt you—asking you to prove your identity: turn this rock into bread, throw yourself down and see if angels come to catch you, stand on this mountain and consider all the influence you’ll have on this earth if you bow down, right now, and worship him with your life. And you didn’t flinch.

I never thought you did. But I didn’t understand—or spend time trying to understand—how.

But now I understand, at least a little bit, after spending that week with you at the desert bonfire: you were loved. You let Love fill you and strengthen you and protect you and equip you. Your Dad’s love made Satan’s words ridiculous. While you were physically weak, your body deprived of food, you were never sad or discouraged. You were spiritually so, so strong.

Thank you for how you choose to be filled with Love and you show me Love—and how you discerned Love’s voice above all other noise.

I hear it.

Love makes any desert one worth visiting.


Friend, the desert isn’t always the place we think it is. It might be desolate. Or it might be fertile in surprising, unusual ways. It might be isolating, lonely. Or it might be rich with adventure and meaning. What is your experience in the desert? How does your heart interpret it? Write a short poem on your “desert.” Let us feel it, know it. Tell us a story. Give it a name. Write it below, as a comment, or share it with the kind poets over at Loop Poetry Project.

Love,

Jennifer

This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com

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