A Terrible Wildness

DesertI love the mountains…almost as much as I love the tallgrass prairie and Kansas’ Konza Prairie. Lush and green. Trees; I’m a big fan. But since Sunday morning coffee, all I can think of is desert and “terrible wildness.”

Sunday morning, M3 and I skidded our way to coffee as we realized all the church services had been cancelled due to the Icepocalypse. We sat with our coffee and crumpets; talked about the people we love and the less-known roads ahead. Eventually, we dove into the book of the second law in the old Hebrew story. My version spoke of a “terrible wilderness” where other versions read “dreadful wilderness” and “vast and dangerous desert.” I misread the words, though. I only read “terrible wildness.”

And the desert rose in my thoughts as a dry barren thirsty dangerous place where the sand and scorpions make home in your shorts and slithering snakes are not the worst of your problems. And the silence.

Silence.
Minus the screams of the lost and lonely or traveler being munched on by a desert predator.
A Silence so defeaning as to drive some mad.
Loneliness.
Unreliable wayfinding.

“It is very hard to live with silence. The real silence is death and this is terrible. To approach this silence, it is necessary to journey to the desert. You do not go to the desert to find identity, but to lose it…You become silence. You become more silent than the silence around you. And then something extraordinary happens: you hear silence speak.” -Edmond Jabes

Perhaps this is the point of all of our wandering
lost and alone
often terrified
The way home scattered with wind and sand and wailing.

Perhaps we find ourselves wandering
in deserts of heart and mind
to quiet ourselves;
so often the very last thing we wish. Quiet.

In the silence of unknowing
our heartbeats grow loud in our ears.
We hear cries
of today or yesterday
and cries of another.

We have no choice but to alert to any sounds across the sands
of scorching shimmering mirages
night noises.
To drop our burdening;
too heavy to carry in the sweltering wastelands.

This terrible silence lasts too long.
We are too alone in it.
It is too hot and we are too thirsty;
our skin dry and shredding
under the unrelenting sun.

We need more than an oasis.
We need one another
Fresh water
Hope
Community.

A good long soak in fresh water…fresh hope.

Despite the beauties of our personal deserts
opulent arid places
gregarious prisons
crowded heartaches
or empty promises

We were made for more than wandering alone.

We are collectively facing what many of us perceive to be a terrible wildness.
How can we call to one another comfort?
Direction? Friendship?
Wayfinding to fresh water and to the other side of the scorching loneliness?

I am listening
Learning from your derring go
And a long walk in the terrible wildness.
Let’s walk this out together.


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