There is something about being in a wildish place for an extended time. First the silence allows you to hear your own voice beneath the chatter of distractions and to-do lists and self-evaluations. Then even that fades, and you can hear the voices of the wind and the rain and the chickadees. Eventually you can hear it: a deeper silence. The invitation to listen to the voice of the sacred. A voice that is deeply your own and also the trees and also God.
What if Moses and his traumatized people were sent into the wilderness not as some sort of mocking punishment or intense object lesson? What if the wilderness was instead the place to listen to the sacred speaking through the voices of burning bushes, calling humans to remember that they belonged to a deeper story?
Exodus reports that the Israelites were captive under Egyptian colonization for more than four hundred years. Unlearning an identity of oppression and restoring a new character of belonging and purpose probably takes at least forty years. Rather than a punishment, being sent into the wilderness becomes a provision, an opportunity for listening and deepening relationship.
This message is excerpted from “Seeing the wilderness” by Victoria Loorz in the September/October 2022 Gather magazine.
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