Poured out, melted away…there are times that we all feel that way. Whether its the busy-ness of life, stresses that come, people who hurt us, struggles with health…there are times that we feel that there’s not much left in the tank. The poem that started the second major section of Alexander Shaia’s book, Heart and Mind, spoke to me about this feeling. As he began to focus on the Gospel of Mark, this poem really connected with me…

Wilderness Prayer
I am not asking you
to take this wilderness from me,
to remove this place of starkness
where I come to know
the wildness within me,
where I learn to call the names
of the ravenous beasts
that pace inside me,
to finger the brambles
that snake through my veins,
to taste the thirst
that tugs at my tongue.

But send me
tough angels,
sweet wine,
strong bread:
just enough.

– Jan L Richardson

Shaia’s book is on the different approaches of the four Gospels and his focus with Mark is on the wilderness experiences and the desperation one feels in those times. I’m not far into that chapter as yet, but he lays out the desperation of the early Christian community in a way that I have not read in quite as vivid of detail.

As I read the first section, I thought of the times of desperation in my own life through struggles with depression and other periods but went even further to those who struggle today in deeply desperate situations – be they individual situations or national situations like the refugee crisis from Syria. Many feel right at this very moment like this candle – there’s a feeling of virtually nothing left. All that once was fragrant and filling has burned away and what is left.

As I read this poem, I prayed for those who feel like they are in the wilderness today – some who I know are in those times and the countless who I will never know, but whom I left before the Lord.

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