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Wilderness

I try to talk with my friends, acquaintances and colleagues about the present year.

“How are you?!” “Great!” “Fine” “So good to see you!” We go through the basic rhetoric as we each mumble with a hidden smiles and squinty eyes beneath our mandatory face masks.

(Can you tell I’m trying to smile at you?)” Are you excepting hugs”?

This year feels like such a mess, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it feel so angry and confusing and backwards? Trying to find the words to describe life is frustrating to me; and putting word-to-thought is my job. It’s what I ENJOY doing, yet I can barely find words for conversations these days when they do arise. (Please, be kind, and tell me I’m not the only one?)

Speechless. It’s the way so many of us are feeling as we watch the news and keep up with politics and social stances and argue over family meals as we tear each other apart in discussion about what is real and what is important. Our feelings control our conversations. Who can blame us? It’s how we’re left hanging two-months before an election and six-months after the rise of a global pandemic. Speechless.

The other day I ran into an acquaintance while standing in the school parking lot. Upon grabbing up our little ones, we relived the end of the last school year, and with hopeful intention, we pray for a better year ahead. “What did the year look like for your family? How did you survive”? We ask each other in-so-many words.Then my friend used a certain word to describe her year. And Just as she spoke it, I felt a wave of confirmation blended with conviction rush through me. My lack of understanding finally felt a sense of completion. I couldn’t put a finger on what the year felt like until now. Until she told me: Wilderness.

A season of drought. Of seeking after something. A time period of refrain and wandering and keeping our eyes fixed on something….something I just couldn’t put my finger on. My wilderness felt kind of deserted and dry.

As she spoke this to me, I spoke back with intention and vulnerability. You see, I felt kind of discontent in this season of quarantine. I felt the loneliness that an extrovert purposely diverts themselves from to avoid feeling lonely. The separation from my friends and my church and my children’s playdates was unbearable. My heart longed for more. My soul was created for companionship. I felt wilderness too, but we were in very different seasons.

Her season was in seeking; My season was in solace. 

So just like that, in a school parking lot, a place where so many conversations were cut short back in March, where learning from and leaning on other’s shoulders was stripped from us, I gained wisdom and revelation that I had so dearly craved and missed over my wandering season that is Covid.

What are we doing in this wilderness? Are we wandering around aimlessly grumbling, complaining and searching for the way back to the way life used to be? Lost like so many before us? Or are we seeking refinement in what lies ahead, waiting patiently for the next door to open, being hopeful for the promises and blessings that lie-in-wait on the other side of this year?

My perspective has shifted thanks to my generous friend and her wise use of words. In this wilderness of life, which perspective will you choose? My neighbor…What does your wilderness look like?

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