A friend of mine who flies planes in and out of Antarctica for the Air National Guard is down at the bottom of the world right now. He read my recent
column about my annual struggles with Lent (click HERE if you missed it) and sent me a beautiful email about his own experiences in a place that the vast majority of us will see only in photos. He said I could share his Lenten message with all of you:
“…down here in Antarctica I find it as if I am in a desert. Although, you may look out the window and not see a desert among the glacier-covered mountains, the permanently frozen Ice Shelf, or snow falling to the ground and seemingly sublimating. It is barren and harsh, extremely dry and cold, an unforgiving environment. It really limits me in what I can actively do.
“For me it is a desert in which I find time from my busy life at home to stop and spend some time with God. I try to go to daily Mass, find contemplative time, but mostly try to listen to God and search inside myself for that next baby step that He is asking of me. It can even be those things which seem so insignificant, yet give you enlightenment into His Passion and Cross, as you wrote. We may never know the effect of our baby steps on others. Does that chocolate cake sitting untouched plant a seed in another, or slowly change the heart of one who is ranting about the senselessness of the act?
“I am a big believer in the small and large actions we do having an effect on others, and I pray that in heaven the harder road we may travel and its effects are revealed. But for now, I enjoy the occasional comment from a coworker, friend, or family that gives me a glimpse of the effect of that baby step.”
Thanks, Paul. (That’s Paul in the photo at the top, standing at William Field at McMurdo, Antarctica, with Mount Erebus — an active volano — in the background.) We truly appreciate your unique insights and experiences as we prepare to enter our own Lenten deserts, wherever they may be, and by that I don’t necessarily mean actual remote physical locations. After having my first child, I can remember writing that at that point in my life the desert was “lush and green.”
(You can read about my first Lent as a new mom by clicking HERE.) The truth is, we can find the holiness and solitude of the desert in the most unlikely places.
If else anyone out there has a Lenten desert experience you would like to share, please consider posting it in the comment section in hopes that your story will help the rest of get a better handle on our own stories.
Happy Super Fat Tuesday!