Grace and Peace to you.
He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan;
and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
Someone left the trail and showshoed off through the woods and over the frozen marsh. They took a curious, wandering path, often cutting oddly close to bushes instead of around them, taking funny little detours as they circled the marsh. I followed the trail. For several days I hiked the circuit. I wondered what those people were thinking— but I liked how whimsical it was.
Then one morning I saw the prints of a fox in the path, all the way around. And it hit me: the fox was not following our path; we had followed his. I was following obediently in the daily route of a wild animal.
I usually am. I follow the leadings of all kinds of “wild beasts”— inner urges, fears, habits and desires that I’m not aware of. They themselves are not evil; but mindlessly following them, I wander away from God and do hurtful things.
The path is not laid out for me. I have to chose it. This Lenten journey with Jesus in the desert, the journey of repentance, is not self-punishment. It’s self-awareness. It’s recognizing the wild beasts that influence me, and being intentional about the path I choose, listening for the voice of the Divine and following that instead of my random urges.
The fox is a beautiful being, a creature of God. And I will follow his trail again tomorrow morning. But that path is not the way home.
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