Standing in the River, Sitting in the Desert

Feb 23, 2012

Notes from Anne’s Sermon (Feb 19, 2012):

God brings us to the river. But God also allows us to have experiences of the desert. Both the river and the desert contain consolation and are necessary for our growth. In the river, God gives us an overwhelming feeling of his faithful presence and teaches us that we are loved. In the desert, however, God teaches us how to love. The importance in the desert is NOT what we are feeling, but what is COMING INTO BEING within us. The gift of the desert is a kind of solidity, a spaciousness of soul, a strength and fidelity that grows quietly within us in this harsh landscape. God teaches us how to respond with fidelity and faithfulness, even when we don’t have our needs met. Both are forms of blessing.

This learning to love with fidelity in both the river and the desert is a process. We vacillate back and forth between consolation and desolation, between hope and despair. We are like a small child learning to ride a bike, and we swerve emotionally all over the place. Here are some ways which Margaret Silf offers us in her book, The Inner Compass, which can help us maintain our equilibrium.

In Consolation:

  1. Tell God how you feel and thank him.
  2. Store this moment in your memory to return to when things get tough.
  3. Add this experience to your life map.
  4. Use the energy you feel to further your deepest desires.
  5. Let the surplus energy fuel the things you don’t like doing, and do them.
  6. Go back to 1.

In Desolation:

  1. Tell God how you feel and ask for help.
  2. Seek out companionship. Don’t go back on decisions you made in consolation.
  3. Stand still and remember your inner map. Recall a time of consolation, and go back to it in imagination.
  4. Look for someone who needs your help, and turn your attention toward them.
  5. Go back to 1.

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