When the world locked down I was standing motionless listening to the sound of snow drifts, wafting off the peaks of the San Juan Wilderness Mountain Range. The drifts glistened in the afternoon sun making the landscape look soft and whimsical. The beauty of the view before me flooded my eyes streaming in, and around the stone now laying on my heart. I found myself thinking of Jesus when the spirit moved him into His Initiation: (“And immediately the Spirit drove him into the Wilderness. And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him” Mark 1:12-13). One definition of Initiation is: “A pathway chosen by or forced upon the initiate. Often times due to unforeseen circumstances that suddenly alter everything”. There is a sacrificial element to this rite of passage. What we knew, and what we were, in exchange for the hope and reward of what is to come once we’ve been transformed by the experience. Most of us are no strangers to radical changes in direction over the years and have developed coping strategies for “being transformed without falling apart”. I find the sweet spot through prayer, and meditation. A place of stillness in the storm. Where the abyss lingers just beyond the moment when I can’t hold the center. So, I breath, and feel my nose tingle, my eyes water as ghosts of emotions begin to stir in my belly, and I resolve again, and again to Not step out into the whirling thoughts just beyond the thin wall of my inner peace. No matter what lies ahead, no matter the temptations before me or how long forty days turns out to be in present day time!
When you survive, and overcome illusions and temptations you have passed the test of Initiation and are ready for the long journey ahead. Only then Love, and Faith can be the guide. For me it meant not indulging the believe that I had a handle on what I was seeing, hearing, and experiencing. Connecting with a strong sense of humility to accept that I had to navigate this brave new world by senses, intuition, and prayers. I couldn’t lash out when friends, and loved ones weren’t showing up the way I expected them to. The commandment “love one another” rung in my ear and felt like a rock of wisdom I needed to cling to with every fiber of my soul. What looked, felt, and sounded good was not necessarily so; and what may have come across as bad, turned out to actually be a good thing!
Now, eighteen months later, it’s starting to feel like we’re making our way out of the wilderness. We’ve all been affected. Everyone I meet has a story of profound change. I can’t help notice that I’m completely uncertain about what the future holds, and I’m at Peace with this understanding. I do not need to know. I have unshakable confidence in the future now! My resilience, and ability to overcome have been put to the test. I am ready come what may. My faith has been renewed. The light will always come to fill the darkness. We do not need to know the outcome, we walk in faith, and we’ll always be given the strength needed to overcome. It is the season of Advent, another Initiation! New life, and reason to rejoice: where there is life, there’s always hope.
Crystal Stroessner Author-blogger,