The E-catechism: August 2000 

  Experience of the desert  
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Each month the team working on this catechism presents you with two texts, and we hope that with your help and cooperation they will improve. Any suggestions you may have would be most welcome, as would ideas on subject matter.
We look forward to hearing from you.

Experience of the desert

The desert is more a spiritual feeling than a location to visit. Going into the wilderness is an undesired experience, done by many, Christians and non-Christians. Like in each person's life you have "to go into the wilderness", it could be the city, your own family or the hospital…You discover abruptly the loneliness. Loneliness helps you to recognize the truth of your existence.
The desert is not a place to stay otherwise you die. To go into the desert means you need to go over a difficult period, possibly dangerous. You leave what you have behind before to go to the other side. The Holy Spirit drove Jesus to the desert, so that he could be alone, to face himself. It was for him the time to make great choices in his life. The Hebrew people had been driven to the desert to prepare themselves for the adventure of conquering the Promised Land.
In a spiritual desert, the usual landmarks have been lost: a profession, health, a social status or a beloved one. You come face to face with your loneliness. Every thing collapses. Our security has disappeared, you no longer feel safe. Facing this unforeseen and sudden situation, you would like to reverse it but it is impossible. You must make other choices, you must conduct new struggles, and in fact you must create a new life.
Some believers have the temptation to make it without God. Why cannot we live without Him? Be happy without Him? You have been confident in Him and then difficult times arrive but He is silent.
The desert is not only the place and time that we are tested. It is also the favorable time when God comes into our hearts and makes us discover His presence, a time of reunion for a new youthfulness. New calls are addressed to us; they give a meaning to our life. A time of conversion, which opens us up to something that we have not imagined.
The experience of the desert demonstrates that you cannot escape yourself, you are faced with yourself. You have then the opportunity to venture and be yourself at last.