Christ in the Desert

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ps. 25:3-10; Matthew 18:21-35


When I consider the experiences of my life that have been most spiritually formative, I often think back to the week I spent at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert during the summer of 2012.  My seminary offered a summer course called Wilderness Spirituality that centered around a trip to the New Mexico desert to visit a monastic community, and I jumped at the opportunity to spend time in an environment so radically different from anything I had experienced before.

The monastery was positioned in a beautiful desert valley near a small river and far from the noise and busyness of typical American life.  In truth, the events of that week were not very extraordinary.  We Baptist seminarians joined the Catholic monks in their seven daily prayer services, worked beside them in their chores, chatted with them about life and faith, and honored their tradition of complete silence from about 7:45 pm until morning prayers at 4 am.  Although some might think this sounds like a rather dull time, I actually felt as if I was learning to experience and enjoy God in a totally new way!  Intentionally taking time for silence, solitude, prayer, and life-giving work opened my eyes to a new kind of intimacy with God.

While life events that dramatically alter our relationship with God certainly do happen, so much of our spiritual growth actually comes in what some call the “sacred ordinary days.”  When we learn to find Christ in the desert of the mundane, the trying, and even the tragic times, we begin to experience God in ways we never knew possible!

—Nick Dawson