A reflection on the propers for Lent 1 by The Rev. Karla J. Miller
T.S. Eliot, 20th century
The last temptation is the greatest treason: to do the right deed for the wrong reason.
Henry David Thoreau, 19th century
Generally speaking, a howling wilderness does not howl: it is the imagination of the traveler that does the howling.
Mother Teresa, 20th century
I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish [God] didn't trust me so much.
(Quotes from Sermon Seeds at iucc.org)
Wilderness and Temptation…
A real wilderness sounds good to me, today…
A quiet, albeit lonely, lonely place
Where the only distraction is grumbling hunger
The parched dryness of my soul,
And the loss of control.
Stripped naked, in that kind of vulnerable starkness,
There would be luxury of time to know my pain, know my weakness,
Reflect on what is important…
Say NO to the dross
And cling to my Creator God
On which my very life is hinged.
But the wilderness I face today is full,
Not just of the business of caring for souls
And writing sermons and rushing to meetings and working to do my part to repair the world (as if…)
My wilderness is abundance…
Of whatever I want whenever I want it…
My wilderness is the ways in which I make comfortable and easy and fun
My everyday living,
My rewards for being good…
Time out for Facebooking, a (big) glass of wine at the end of a long day, the next books I order from Amazon, the delivery of pizza to my door, the phone calls I screen from my father because I am just not up to it …
My wilderness is
the time I don’t have…
Oh yes, it’s all about the time I don’t have…
To create the internal space…
Where I can discern whether my rewards
Are really succumbing to the temptation
Of anesthetizing my heart,
Of denying the out of control consumption, the illusion of my own protection, the idol of my own power
To save myself.
To not bother God with having to take care of me—I can do that so you don’t have to Holy One. Take care of others. They need it more than me.
Ah, yes. The wilderness of my life is full,
And I have sinned. I have succumbed. I am goddess of my life.
Oh Holy One, Creator of the earth and skies and even me,
Lead me not into temptation,
Deliver me from the evil of denial,
Create in me a clean heart, oh God…
Renew a right spirit within me…
I offer you my pain. I lift up my brokenness to you.
I trust you. (well, at least for now I can only say that, but I want to believe it)
I will trust in you.
My life is hinged on you.
Help me remember.
Show me true worship