Last Wednesday, I facilitated the last of a book study series I’d been leading on The Gift of Wonder. Each participant brought some slices of apple and a small amount of honey to dip them in. We ate them as we talked about the sweetness that we gained from community interaction through the sessions. For all of us, wonder brightened our winter days and strengthened our spirits as we moved forward towards the spring.
What astonished me was how much I enjoyed these apple slices. And the honey, which came from a good friend who keeps bees, was the most delicious I have ever tasted. This must be like the wild honey that John the Baptist ate during his sojourn in the desert, I thought. Maybe Jesus ate it too.
If you remember, John the Baptist lived and preached in the desert and survived on locusts and honey – apparently a common diet for desert wanderers and hermits. It may sound gross to us, but locusts are considered a delicacy in some cultures. Evidently, they are quite nutritious, full of protein, and when combined with honey, considered to be the food of the Gods. Simple but delicious food, just like the manna that God gifted to the Hebrews in the desert.
We are heading into the wilderness of Lent, a place we need to retreat to regularly so that we learn to follow God more fully. Some of us feel we have lived in a perpetual wilderness for the last 2 years. We think of a wilderness experience as a time of austerity, and in some ways it is, but we also need to recognize that in the wilderness God provides delicious food, sweet and nutritious.
Once I took my first bite of those apples and honey on Wednesday night I couldn’t stop until the plate was empty. They really were delicious and nourishing just like the food – both spiritual and physical – God sustained most of us with over the last couple of years. In the midst of heartache and distress there was much beauty to be uncovered we just need to pause, beautify our gaze, and take notice of what is all around us.
In preparation for our Lenten retreat: Finding Beauty in the Ashes of Lent on Saturday, I have been re-reading John O’Donohue’s book Beauty. Talk about sweet sustenance for my soul and so much wisdom that helps me understand the fruit of the journey we have been on. I will talk more about this on Saturday, so make sure you sign up but here are just a couple of his insights to end with. Good preparation for Saturday, and as you reflect on the quotes ask yourself:
What is the sweet but nourishing food God provided you with? What luminescence of beauty was uncovered for you as a result?
If our style of looking becomes beautiful, then beauty will become visible and shine forth for us…. When we beautify our gaze, the grace of hidden beauty becomes our joy and our sanctuary. (Beauty, 19)
When beauty touches our lives, the moment becomes luminous. Theses grace-moments are gifts that surprise us. When we look beyond the moment to our life journey, perhaps we can choose a new rhythm of journeying which would be more conscious of beauty and more open to inviting her to disclose herself to us in all the situations we travel through (Beauty, 23)
Greed for destination obliterates the journey. The digital desire for the single instant schools the mind in false priority. Each instant proclaims its own authority and the present image demands the complete attention of the eye….. The mechanics of electronic imaging reverses the incarnation of real encounter. But a great journey needs plenty of time. It should not be rushed; if it is, your life becomes a kind of abstract package tour devoid of beauty and meaning. There is such constant whirr of movement that you never know where you are. You have no time to give yourself to the present experience. When you accumulate experiences at such a tempo everything becomes thin. Consequently, you become ever more absent from your life and this fosters emptiness that haunts the heart (Beauty, 27)
When you regain a sense of your life as a journey of discovery you return to rhythm with yourself. When you take the time to travel with reverence, a richer like unfolds before you. Moments of beauty begin to braid your days. When your mind becomes more acquainted with reverence, the light, grace, and elegance of beauty find you more frequently (Beauty, 28)
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It’s not too late! Just a few days left to sign up for THIS Saturday’s Lenten retreat! Join Christine Sine and Lilly Lewin as we learn to lay down our grief and gather our joys through the journey of Lent. This retreat will be LIVE via zoom from 9:30 am PT to 12:30 pm PT. Click here for more details or to sign up!