What a wonderful paradox that the barren, harsh, empty desert is really a place from which renewal and change comes.
Luke tells us that John found his inspiration and his voice in the wilderness and went about ‘proclaiming a baptism of repentance’. Think again, think differently. Change direction. If we are prepared to enter it, the desert will helps us to see and act differently. The desert is a place of spiritual revolution.
A stream was working its way across the country, experiencing little difficulty. It ran down the mountains, rushed around the rocks, over the pebbles and through the fields with ease, until it arrived at a desert. Just as it had crossed every other barrier, the stream tried to cross this one. But as fast as it ran into the sand, its waters disappeared. It kept trying, but after many attempts, it became very discouraged. It seemed there was no way it could continue its journey.
Then it heard a voice in the wind. “If you stay the way you are, you won’t be able to cross the sands. You will turn into a quagmire. To go further you will have to change. You will have to lose yourself.”
“But if I lose myself, I will never know what I am supposed to be.”
“On the contrary,” said the voice, “if you lose yourself, you will become more than you ever dreamed you could be.”
So the stream surrendered to the dying sun and the clouds into which it was formed were carried by the strength of the wind for many miles. Once across the desert the stream poured down as rain, fresh and clean and full of the energy that comes from a storm.
(Story adapted from Sufi Tales)