I’ve been outside each morning for the past five mornings up at our retreat. This image shows what I’ve been able to sit in. The Aspens are turning gold. The sun has been shining bright. The air has been warm. One could not ask for a better fall here in Colorado.
Yet, like the leaves, I feel something inside of me is changing. Something feels like it is dying. As I reflect back on this past year, it’s been a hard press. I have written a book (Soul Custody); been focused on the entire transformation of the barn to morph into becoming a 14 year long vision of having an “Inn” for people to come who are worn out, tired and burned out on religion. I’ve led several dozen retreats and met with scores of people. It’s time for me to take a break. Take a break to look for Jesus. Go into the wilderness so that I might find him.
But these golden Aspens reveal a deeper secret I have within me. As much as I have tried to advocate for; be passionate about and help others to experience–I have to admit, I’m wrestling inside about some things that are just plain, making me tired.
The scared bark of our beloved Aspens show the wounds where elk, deer and other critters have come to rub themselves against this precious bark. The bark, like my soul has grown weary with a few wounds to prove it.
I am going on a respite. It’s much deserved but as this day of departure looms for me to pack my bags and go into the wilderness for a three week journey, I feel everything inside of me saying: “Don’t go. You have too much to do. It’s not the right time.” And I listen for a while to those old voices which I know all too well and I know that they are speaking to me lies. Lies to make me sign up again; stay for another card in the game and go for one more ride around the ring. When I feel tired…life and almost everyone and everything looks tired also.
I read the lyrics to an old Black gospel song which simply says, “If you want to find Jesus, you gotta go into the wilderness.” I’ve sat with that song now for about a month since discovering it. I’ve realized how true the song really is when friends fail you; church seems like nothing but a programming machine and the idea of ‘community’ has never seemed farther away. I need to go into the wilderness. It’s time.
For three weeks, Gwen and I will be in Alaska. I’ve never been–but always wanted to go. I am going into the wilderness. I’m not going on a cruise. I’m not going with a tour. It’s just me and my companion now of 30 years. Together, we are going to fly in; rent a car and get as lost as we can get for three weeks.
At the end of these three weeks, I’ll be with 20 pastors and spouses up in the tundra of Alaska…in a place so remote that the only access is to be flown in on a plane. There’s no electricity. There are few cars. And I just heard that the daily diet of most of the folks I’ll be working with is whale blubber. I’ve never eaten whale blubber. It doesn’t sound too good right now. They are living in the wilderness and I wonder here if they might know something I need to know…about Jesus and the wilderness. I’ll be anxious to find out.
I’m taking a few books. A pair of binoculars. Some rain gear and we’re off. I’m going into the wilderness. I’m going into beauty–about the last sacred thing on earth that can revive a person’s soul I think. I’m going into the wilderness to look for Jesus.