Day 18: A Walk in the Desert

When you walk into a desert
There is a grinding sound
Of your feet against
The scorched and undulating sand.

Go very early in the morning,
Even before the sun, so silent,
Begins to make noise,
And you will see what I mean.

Later, the heat of the day
Will distract you from the grinding
As you walk the alkaline plain
But when it becomes very hot,
Your thoughts will return to your feet
And the sand
And the grinding will irritate,
Then consume,
Then suffocate you.

Christ knew this grinding,
As he was guided into the desert
To meet temptation.
And not only the sand scoured;
His entire incarnation chafing the tent of his flesh,
The Potter enclosed inside his ware,
Sweltering in the Mediterranean sun.

Even as he finally
Beneath a lone, spreading Acacia,
The grinding does not cease, but rather
Shifts its pitch,
Coming now from his belly
Instead of his heels.

In this vulnerable moment
The demonic offers are made:
Kingdoms, assurances, sustenance.
Escapes from the grind.
Somehow, with
Friction and wear intensifying,
His peace remains:
Paradoxical and impossible trust
In the Goodness of his Father.

Later, after you have spent
Many skin-frozen nights and
Many sun-blind days
In the desert
You will find that
The grinding sand beneath your feet
Is the unlikely sound that returns you
Again and again,
Impossibly and paradoxically,
To Peace.

By Remington J. Moll, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University
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