Journeying Through the Desert of Life
2nd Sunday of Advent
December 5, 2021
“Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight and the rough ways made smooth,
And all flesh shall see the salvation of God!”
The first and third readings today almost sound like a big construction project, and in a way they are: valleys being filled in, mountains leveled, roads straightened, rough roads paved. What in the world is being described here? These readings sound either irrelevant or hopelessly idyllic, but wait a moment: these are all metaphors. The speaker is John the Baptist calling out from the desert. Let’s explore these spiritual places of the heart.
The desert: a place of testing, of trial and deprivation, of hunger and stark beauty, life and death. God often speaks in the desert places of our lives, when we have been purified by suffering or have experienced a loss, or a hunger for God.
Valleys and mountains: Highs and lows. On the mountain we see clearly; we are exhilarated; we have achieved something; our path seems clear; the road ahead joyous. A mountain also indicates that the road to the top may be arduous and steep, difficult to climb and full of dangers and difficulties.
The valley: During such times as these we are often sliding downhill or seem to be. The view is limited; the way gets darker; the path is unknown; we may be in sin or depression or suffering. The valley often means suffering in scripture. Yes, we have been here too.
The winding road: What does this represent? Many switchbacks: goals that must be altered; the way seems unsure; we seem to be making little progress; we may be getting discouraged; we must travel slower than we wanted; life has brought us confusion. We may not know where we are going or if we are even on the right road at all: yet, through it all, we keep going.
The rough road: It speaks for itself! Our life is anything but smooth; it seems we are coming apart.
God’s light will cut through all of this: All of these things are only a part of the journey. It is precisely in these kinds of difficulties: arduous climbs, depressing descents, confusing switchbacks in our progress, rough patches...... Desert Experiences...... that we find that God is most active. Our journey of life is not meant to be a freeway, so much as a hike; not easy, but challenging. We have the Holy Spirit as our guide and the Church, through whom he speaks, to lead us until we reach our home. Such is our life’s journey. He is always with us.