Returning to the Wild

Returning to the Wild

The best reward in going to the woods
Is being lost the other people, and
Lost sometimes to myself.  I'm at the end
Of no bespeaking wire to spoil my goods;

I send no letter back I do not bring.
Whoever wants me now must hunt me down
Like something wild, and wild is anything
Beyond the reach of purpose not its own.

Wild is anything that's not at home
In something else's place.  This good white oak
Is not an orchard tree, is unbespoke,
And it can live here by its will alone,

Lost to all wills but Heaven's -- wild.
So where I am most found I am lost to you,
Presuming friend, and can only be called
Or answered by a certain one, or two.

Wendell Berry in This Day: Collected & New Sabbath Poems p.158

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There are many places in scripture where God's beloved people are found wandering in the wilderness.  Sometimes because God took them there (See the book of Exodus, or the forty days of temptation immediately following Jesus' baptism where the Spirit leads (or maybe "drove" as Mark's gospel suggests) him into the wilderness.

Wendell Berry, in speaking of his sabbath ventures into the wilderness gives us such profound definitions of what it means to be "wild."  "Wild is anything / Beyond the reach of purpose not its own," later, perhaps, emending that to "Lost to all wills but Heaven's -- wild."

In these days of pandemic it is perhaps more important than ever that we embrace the wilderness of our new reality, and also make time as we are able to be "lost to other people and / Lost sometimes to [our]self."  That is, to find ways to be alone with God and with God alone;  To be away from the wires and screens which clamor with such immediate urgency to be addressed; to make time to enter into the solitude which is a furnace in which all the dross is burned away and we are left with only our most true will, the will of Heaven.

Prayer:  Lord God, you are the God of wilderness wandering and wild-encounter.  Help us to turn aside from our many urgencies and seek solitude with you - who restores unto health.  No doubt you are at work bringing shape to our lives even if we do not notice it, but give us eyes to see and minds to know and hearts to hold you and your will -- only and always.  In the name of the first to be baptized and then driven into the wilderness - our Lord, Jesus, the Christ.

Paul Lang