MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
– Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude.
At some point we all experience this sense of not knowing where we are going. The way forward is just not clear. It may come upon us in the form of suffering, a divorce, a business failure, loneliness, depression, financial insecurity, a shattered dream, or the loss of a loved one. It is time in the desert. The desert, in whatever form it comes to us, is a necessary part of our spiritual journey and growth. The temptation is to escape the desert but our spiritual work is to remain, to be still.
Time in the desert asks us to let go of our attachments and earthly limitations that we might stand naked before the presence of a boundless God whose grace has no limitations. Time in the desert often feels as if God has abandoned us, but in reality it is God’s invitation to abandon ourselves to God. Ultimately, this is an invitation to transfiguration.
Abba Alonius said: “If one does not say in one’s heart, that in the world there is only myself and God, then one will simply not gain peace.”