#35.10 Tues. Aug. 23, 2022

Historical setting: 589 C.E. Following the Loire

         On these days we are riding on the north side of the Loire.  These riverbanks had caves where Christian ascetics found solitude. I was among them while St. Martin was living with the monks near Poitiers. Ana listens to my incessant reminiscing.

         “When I first came here I dug a so-called ‘desert’ cave in this bank. It’s hard to believe this was the farthest, most distant wilderness on earth and now its farmlands.”

         “Where did you come from then?”

         “At the passing of my elderly sister in Ephesus I went on to Persia to keep a distance from the Romans. Then when the politics between empires in 326 caused new insecurities it turned to be the Sassanid Empire that persecuted Christians. I was among the first of the many killed so I dared not spend my healing time in a place where my name was known. Barely able to travel, I had to make my way by sea in search of the farthest river. Like the Romans on their quests to conquer distant lands, like the Huns sweeping across the farthest reaches of civilization from the east, and like Father Columbanus seeking the most remote place, I also came to Gaul.”

         Ana notices, “Coming as we are this afternoon, from far away, it seems more like we are returning home than finding a wilderness.”

         “Yes, that’s a great irony in wilderness seeking. The ancient Hebrew people journeyed through wilderness to their homeland where they could be close to God. But it seems God left them out there in no man’s land for forty years until they finally learned to listen to God speaking. [the Exodus story] So, of course when Jesus wanted to listen to God he went straight into the wilderness. [Mark 1:12-13] In these times all the wildernesses are already brimming with saints listening for the still small voice Elijah could hear. [I Kings 19:11-18] The irony is we keep wandering into wildernesses to find God.”

         “Why is there irony in that?”

         “From the human place God is always paradox –Creator deep within all Creation – God is love within each person yet far beyond all people. Her poem is all that is – in all the wildernesses, in solitude or crowd, here God is. So in the end those who wander to find God are in the same places as those that wander to escape God.”

         “Wilderness is an eternal pattern of lostness and foundness.”

 (Continues tomorrow)

Published by J.K. Marlin

Retired church playwright learning new art forms-- fiction writing, in historical context and now blogging these stories. The Lazarus Pages have a recurring character -- best friend of Jesus -- repeatedly waking to life in various periods of church history and spirituality.

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