06/01/2010 05:22 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

God Is in the Desert

Are you in the desert? Has life guided you into the vast starkness for a reckoning? Like Jesus and Moses before you, are you undergoing severe trials and temptations? Are you in the throes of your desert years?

Symbolically, the desert represents desolation, abandonment and contemplation of that which lies beyond the known. The Biblical prophets knew that the mystical expanse, the barren earth and the endless terrain were fertile ground for revelation and direct exposure to God. In ancient times, one had to tread into the heart of this mystical locus in the hopes of lifting the veil to gaze into a world of unimagined beauty.

Why is God in the desert? To incite longing from within and infuriate the being from without by the fortresses placed upon its path. What fortresses have been placed on your path? What are you being deprived of? What eludes you? It seems that it is precisely during our desert years that we touch the bottom of our being and reach out to caress the face of God. For we realize not only the indifference of the desert years and the impersonal nature of God but how necessary this pilgrimage is to the dissolution of the ego and the rebirth of the true consciousness.

We may have forgotten the desert but the desert forgets us not. The mysterious and silent echo of the unknown haunts us as we make our way in the world. We achieve and yet we are still unsatisfied. We love and yet we do not feel loved completely. We celebrate and yet there is no real joy. This is the paradox of modern life. How is it that despite every conceivable convenience man still wanders the desert, albeit a modern one -- lost, desolate and desperately searching for that which he cannot name, nor see or comprehend?

Many confuse the desert years with bad luck, when in fact it is a profound initiation, the locus of an encounter with God. Instead of realizing this, we feel victimized by life. No one explained or pointed out that the many detours, delays and standstill were in fact a sacred part of our journey. That we in fact had to walk the desert, that we would be thrown back unto ourselves, all alone to make our way through its deafening silence to reach living waters. In the midst of feeling desolate, abandoned and lost was but a preparation. Preparation for what? We must, it seems, lose everything or give up everything in order to find this mysterious and longed for presence deep within us. It seems this presence comes alive only when we are on our knees, weeping and yearning for release.

To avoid this journey is to avoid life. We must journey into this inner sanctum of privation and beauty. This phase of life is not one of accumulation of spiritual insights or experience. Rather, it fosters the relinquishment and surrender of self so deeply ingrained within the psyche. It destroys illusions within the mind and leaves only the blinding rays of truth. There is no room for dualistic thinking in the desert. It is through that which is lost, empty, without bearing and yielding nothing that the mysteries are revealed. For those of us serious about finding God consciousness, only in utterly losing our way is God found.

The Gospel according to Matthew describes how Jesus was led by God out into the desert to face temptation and have a reckoning with the devil. Like John before him, Jesus began to teach in the world after his initiation, instruction and trials in the desert were completed. If you are experiencing a similar fate and you find yourself still within the womb of the desert -- what are you being prepared for? What truths are awaiting you as you tread upon the golden crystals beneath your feet? What truths will the silence bestow upon you? In what ways will you be tempted? Who will you choose? For only those who persist and endure the desert years will find the path to living water and eternal springs.