FreerangeFriday: Gifts in the Wilderness

by Lilly Lewin
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By Lilly Lewin

We are moving ahead in the Lenten Season. This Sunday will mark WEEK 2. I am not a rule follower when it comes to Lent. I believe we get to start where we are and begin our Lenten Journey when we can. So if you haven’t figured out what you want to do for Lent or focus on during Lent…DO NOT PANIC OR BEAT YOURSELF UP! Once upon a time Lent was only a week, not 40 days. So wherever you are today give yourself permission and grace to just BE YOU and know that you are deeply loved by the CREATOR of the Universe!  I feel like we all need this reminder! I know that I do because my social media feeds are full of people being more busy and more productive than I am, and the news is filled with the crap of racism that is happening in my home town and the violence of war and genocide and political disagreements. There is a lot of heaviness in our world. WE NEED TO BE STILL and KNOW that God is in control!

I have spent the last few days up in Michigan on the lake. I needed some cold weather, and a water view to fill up my cup so I can keep pouring it out. I needed the beauty of bare trees and walking in the woods. I needed the rocky beach and the sand and waves.  I really need to feel the cold wind on my face and see the largeness of Lake Michigan. Many people go to warm weather beaches in the winter, but being from the South, I JUST NEED MORE WINTER! It grounds me and allows me to want to look for the newness of spring! It is a real gift to retreat here. God has given my husband and I a chance to talk, reconnect and look towards the year ahead. I have thought about all the gifts of last year and watched for the gifts Jesus is giving me each day! On Pilgrimage, I call these God Surprises!

Here are some of the Gifts and God Surprises I have received:

God has gifted us with a beautiful sunset almost every night! Sunsets remind me of God’s love and creativity. I used to say when I was little that I wanted the job of painting sunsets when I got to heaven! My former boss, Father Roger Foote said a spiritual director told him to receive each sunset from Jesus as if it was JUST FOR YOU! So that’s  what I’ve been doing. Receiving the sunsets as special gifts of love from Jesus each evening.

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Another gift has been watching for hearts. I found them in wood stumps, and leaves and there are so many rocks on our Lake Michigan beach, I started noticing all the heart shaped ones and receiving these as signs of God’s love for me. And I’m working on an idea for an art piece with my new rock collection of heart rocks and drift wood.

WHAT GIFTS OF LOVE are you noticing this Lenten Season so far? How can you take time to notice and watch for these? What things, like sunsets, remind you of God’s love for you?


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The Season of Lent begins with the invitation to reflect on the Wilderness experience of Jesus following his baptism. This week in our thinplace gathering we used an Isaiah passage to reflect on the Wilderness.

Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness,
 you who seek the Lord.
 Look to the rock from which you were hewn
  and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father
 and to Sarah, who bore you,
 for he was but one when I called him,
 but I blessed him and made him many. For the Lord will comfort Zion;
 he will comfort all her waste places 
and will make her wilderness like Eden,
 her desert like the garden of the Lord;
 joy and gladness will be found in her,
 thanksgiving and the voice of song.
4 Listen to me, my people,
 and give heed to me, my nation,
 for a teaching will go out from me
 and my justice for a light to the peoples.
 I will bring near my deliverance swiftly;
  my salvation has gone out,
 and my arms will rule the peoples; 
the coastlands wait for me,
 and for my arm they hope.

6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens
  and look at the earth beneath,
 for the heavens will vanish like smoke,
 the earth will wear out like a garment,
 and those who live on it will die like gnats, 
but my salvation will be forever,
 and my deliverance will never be ended.
7 Listen to me, you who know righteousness,
 you people who have my teaching in your hearts;
 do not fear the reproach of others,
 and do not be dismayed when they revile you.
 For the moth will eat them up like a garment,
  and the worm will eat them like wool,
 but my deliverance will be forever
 and my salvation to all generations.

9 Awake, awake, put on strength,
   O arm of the Lord!
 Awake, as in days of old,
 the generations of long ago!
 Was it not you who cut Rahab in pieces,
  who pierced the dragon?
10 Was it not you who dried up the sea,
 the waters of the great deep; 
who made the depths of the sea a way
 for the redeemed to cross over?
 So the ransomed of the Lord shall return
 and come to Zion with rejoicing;
 everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
 they shall obtain joy and gladness,
 and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. ISAIAH 51:1-11

What do you notice as you read this passage? What does the Holy Spirit highlight for you?  What questions come up?  What is God’s invitation to you?

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What is the invitation?

We see the Wilderness again in this Isaiah passage.

For the Lord will comfort Zion;
 he will comfort all her waste places 
and will make her wilderness like Eden,
 her desert like the garden of the Lord;
 joy and gladness will be found in her,
 thanksgiving and the voice of song.

How is your life going right now? In what ways are you experiencing the WILDERNESS?
How does this Isaiah passage give you hope in your wilderness?

What Is bringing you JOY in your life right now? Take time to remember and be thankful.

The Word Lent began to be used in the 13th century
Middle English lente springtime, Lent, from Old English lencten; akin to Old High German lenzin spring.
Lent= Spring…and in our part of the world Spring brings life back to our yards and gardens.

Where do you need to experience a bit of Spring right now? Talk to Jesus about this.

What could bring that SPRING rebirth and beauty back into your life this Lent? Could you invest in some flowers, could you plant something new in your yard or plan a garden for later after the frost? Could you visit an art museum and look for all the signs of spring in the art? Or in your walks around the neighborhood? Watching for signs of spring as you walk.


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READ THE POEM PRAYER by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ

Patient Trust
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ
excerpted from Hearts on Fire

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ACTIONS/INVITATIONS for you this Lenten Season:
Plan to get our in Nature. What if you invite someone to join you for walks in Lent. It could be as simple as a walk around your neighborhood. It could be a walk in a nearby park. Or plan a special walk or hike in a place a bit farther away that you and your family go on to reflect on Jesus and the beauty around you.

Create a centerpiece for you table…to remind you of the wilderness
It can be for the table where you eat your meals, or for your coffee table where you will see it daily.

Sand, rocks, maybe some succulents or dried flowers….things that represent the wilderness to you.

BE with those who suffer. The Wilderness is not a plush or posh environment. It reveals or can represent the harsh reality and suffering of our world. Take some time to consider the suffering happening in our world today. Spend some time praying for the places and people in the wilderness. Who might you help who is suffering in real life this Lent?

Do something that reminds you that you are the BELOVED of God. You might choose to Wrap yourself in God’s love with a favorite blanket each day. You might drink from a cup with a heart, or something else.

Create a Lenten Playlist of songs that reflect the Wilderness and/or the Love of God for you.

Let Jesus LOVE YOU this Lent!

©lillylewin and

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