Spiritual dryness, if that is [God's] will at the moment, is as much to be loved and obeyed as spiritual fervor . …It takes repeated aridity … to bring home to us that our own so precious feelings contribute nothing to our salvation; that, in fact, they generally stand in the way of our perfection. Spiritual dryness can finally lead us, after much pouting, actually to give thanks that it is not because we see God that we have joy. It is because he sees us.

Gale D. Webbe, The Night and Nothing

The mountain is where one seeks to transcend ordinary human experience; the desert is where one enters it most deeply.

Belden Lane, The Solace of Fierce Landscapes

For the garden is the only place there is, but you will not find it until you have looked for it everywhere and found nowhere that is not a desert.

W. H. Auden, from For the Time Being

The desert loves to strip bare.

Saint Jerome, from a letter

I have it in me so much nearer home to scare myself with my own desert places.

Robert Frost, from "Desert Places"

Go and pray to the Lord to command some struggle to be stirred up in you, for the soul is matured only in battles.

Abbot John the Dwarf in Thomas Merton, The Wisdom of the Desert

Precisely because our secular milieu offers us so few spiritual disciplines, we have to develop our own. We have, indeed, to fashion our own desert where we can withdraw every day, shake off our compulsions, and dwell in the gentle healing presence of our Lord.

Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Way of the Heart

Remain attentive to God, stay utterly dependent on God—this is the lesson of the desert; but it will not transport us away from the desert.

David Rensberger, "Deserted Spaces," in Weavings

The further you go into the desert, the closer you come to God.

Arabic proverb

As soon as you are really alone, you are with God.

Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

Go sit in your cell and your cell will teach you everything.

Benedicta Ward, Desert Christian

Israel, stuck in the desert for 40 years, came to say it was their honeymoon time with God.

W. Paul Jones, interview at ParacletePress.com

The desert is not the final stopping place. It is a stage on the journey . …Our vocation is contemplation in the streets . …Certainly it would be easier and more pleasant to stay here in the desert. But God doesn't seem to want that.

Carlo Carretto, Letters from the Desert

Related Elsewhere

Past Reflections columns include:

Matters of the Mind (October 16, 2002)
Bumper stickers (August 6, 2002)
Preaching (July 18, 2002)
Prayer (June 24, 2002)
Suffering and Grief (May 20, 2002)
Writers and Words (April 18, 2002)
Crucifixion (March 28, 2002)
God's Mission (February 13, 2002)
On Enemies (January 8, 2002)
Life After Christmas (December 26, 2001)
Love & Marriage (November 13, 2001)
The Word of God (October 22, 2001)
Leadership (October 11, 2001)
Suffering (September 13, 2001)
Change (August 14, 2001)
Living Tradition (July 18, 2001)
Sacred Spaces (June 11, 2001)
Friendship (May 17, 2001)

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