The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom.
Dry: lonely, forlorn, ultimately dead.
Very little wants to live there. Very little actually can.
Desert gives either deepest roots, or no roots at all; things stay and survive forever, or they learn to adapt speedily.
Like the crocus, it shall blossom abundantly.
Beloved, show me the way.
The way through the desert.
The way past the ravenous beasts and lifeless spots. The way past thorns and desolation. The way to where life is.
Show me the way to seeing the glory of the Lord, such as we feel when looking upon mountains in the distance. Such as we experience when touching and touched by the frail beauty of the wild flowers rising from barren earth in all their colour and intensity.
The way that is high way, safe to travel, even for those who do not understand it.
Water shall come to the dry places, the burning sand will turn into a pool.
The biotope will be inverted, attracting life and company and simple gladness of living.
How can it be? The answer is in the Way. The name of the highway is Holy Way.
The path where those redeemed and ransomed will travel to their destination, not troubled any more by afflictions or dangers.
Sounds nice, does it not?
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Jesus is the Way. The Way of the Lord. The Way to the Lord. The Way into the Lord.
But how to walk it?
There are two questions here.
Who Jesus is. Who I am in him.
The first is asked by John the Baptist. Are you the one, he says. Are you the one who sets the prisoners free, who ransoms and redeems his people. Can I hope that my days of death and desert are over, may I hope. And very very quietly — Do I stand a chance?
Instead of “yes I am”, Jesus tells the disciples to speak of what they see and hear: the blind see, the lame walk, the sick are healed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor receive good news. (Mt. 11.4) He lets the messengers be witnesses of what he can do, he calls them to remember what was promised.
The blind see. They experience the truth in a new way. They see the glory of God. They see other people.
The lame walk. The freedom of movement is restored. They walk in the ways of God. They walk in the ways of peace.
The sick are healed. They have their dignity returned to them. They show the image of God restored.
The deaf hear. The world has acquired another dimension for them. They hear the voice of God. They hear the voices of others.
The dead are raised. The gladness of life is restored. They witness to God who is life-giver and sustainer.
The poor have good news brought to them. The good news of kindness not being quite dead. The good news of the safe passage into the Kingdom.
The death, blindness, deafness, lameness and all those things are a dry, wild land without the life-giving water.
What water does to a desert land, is done to a soul in Baptism. The waters of baptismal font raise the dead, make the blind see, the deaf hear and cleanse the sick.
And then we learn to walk the Holy way. By patience.
Patience gives strength to the weak. Patience restores the tired. Patience creates a world without grumbling.
Beloved, writes James, do not grumble against one another.
Beloved, he says, show us the way that is truth and life.
You who have been restored to vision, hearing, movement, life itself – because of the love and truth who is Jesus, now are the witnesses.
Be grateful. Trust your Way. Become the highway to heaven. The Holy Way, in the world, but not of it.
And so, in the time before we remember the coming of the Redeemer into history, let our patient prayer be: Beloved, show us the Way.