Long ago in ancient Palestine, an idea bubbled up inside the mind of a Jew to go out into the wilderness for a while. He then went and was alone in a wild place for a time, and something happened in his soul and his mind and his bones while he was out there. Then he came back, and started a revolution that changed the world.
That was Jesus. This … is me.
I want to change the world too. I want to be like Jesus. I feel an itch, a burning creative latency, a nervousness, an electric pressure inside. I have to get out of the city, off my own grid, out of my comfort zone, and away from my familiar connections.
I am going to a wild place.
Starting on my birthday, August 25th, I will leave Austin for 10 days. I’ll drive west into New Mexico, and will be alone in the highlands for a week. I will backpack. I will write. I will play my drum atop mountains. I will drink from mountain streams, and let my mind rest deeply. I will listen to my God, who will be meeting me out there.
I have no doubt that I will be afraid. The mountains are a fearsome place, and I am not accustomed to being in them alone. I get jumpy; I am a city kid. And when that sun goes down, or the sound of a wild animal echoes through the valley, or a cold wind rips across the ridgeline, or a hail storm appears at midnight … there will be nobody next to me to laugh with. I will be alone with my thoughts and my uncertainty, forced to confront the helplessness of my own frailty. I will be amidst terrain that has no regard for my well-being. I am not master there. I will have no control. I will be small. I will be alone.
But, God will be meeting me out there. If he wasn’t coming, I wouldn’t come either.
Jesus made a habit of escaping to wild places. He knew there was something worthwhile out there, in spite of the discomfort. I will follow him.
It isn’t simply that I feel obligated to imitate him. It’s that I feel this pressure in my chest, this primal scream latent in my lungs, this fire in my arteries yearning for more. To be tested. To meet the giant sky. To throw myself past the margins of comfort, and outside the reach of my own control. To unplug, decisively. To flee the 90-degree angles of this constructed urban life. To get away from what is predictable, mundane, easy, and comfortable. To experience real physical suffering. To find out what happens when my personal resources are exhausted. To live for a few days near the bleeding edge. To meet a God who is immense, terrifying, and awesome.
I will go because I cannot tolerate not going.
There is a whisper and a dream pulsing in me, born of the same Spirit that first filled my lungs. It says: something is out there.
And I’m going to go find it.