I was very struck by today’s reflection about desolation. There is, I think, a fine line to be trodden. One should not, perhaps, seek out desolation, but be ready to accept it when it comes, without trying to avoid, deny or minimise its reality. After all, just as without darkness there can be no light, so without desolation there can be no consolation.
The experience of desolation is perhaps akin to the wilderness landscape which we encounter so much in readings from Isaiah at this time of year, and which is such a crucial piece of biblical imagery. The wilderness, the desert, the barren place… it is a landscape of desolation, but also of transformation. We may encounter desolation and even despair while we are there, but we return from the wilderness transformed, renewed, ready for the task God lays before us. Just so, Jesus returned from his time in the wilderness, equipped by that desolate desert experience to begin his ministry.
It is not an easy kind of transformation. But the journey from desolation to consolation finds parallels in the narrative of death and resurrection. In order to find deep joy, we must acknowledge deep despair. It is the people who walk in darkness on whom the light shines – but first we must step out into the dark.
This year for #AdventBookClub a group of us are reading “In The Bleak Midwinter” by Rachel Mann. Join us on Facebook or Twitter for daily reflections and discussions. We are also raising money for the Trussell Trust: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/adventbookclub2019.