Lent, The Wilderness, and Spring a Bit Sooner than Back Home

Tomorrow is the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, so we are now well into the Triodian (the three Sundays before Great Lent). How better to prepare for Lent than spend 40 minutes in The Wilderness?

“The Wilderness” referred to here isn’t the Sinai, only the wilderness at the boarding school where we are temporarily living. (Yes, they really do call it “the wilderness.”) It is a several acre wooded area complete with various obstacle course pieces of equipment where the cadets do both physical and military training. There is a beautiful trail that skirts the edge of the wilderness and it takes a bit over a half hour to walk around it. Since this region just east of the Mississippi has loess deposits (just like Sioux City) it’s very hilly.

It even has a little stream you have to cross (just like the Jordan?) and there is a cement bridge over the spillway of the lake (just like the Red Sea?). I also suspect that during physical training, when the school military leadership is pushing the cadet corps hard the cadets might even “harden their hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in The Wilderness” (Psalm 95:8). There’s no Mt. Horeb in the middle of this wilderness though, just a fenced compound where the cadets sometimes spend the night. No reports of God talking to them, but the Colonel has been known to point his finger and give them a good talking to in the compound. If it’s part of an in-school suspension, it means they’re spending the night in the wilderness with only bread and water. The bread they get probably isn’t as good as manna, so no doubt they pine for life outside the wilderness, just like the Israelites: “We remember the fish we used to eat in [the dining facility] for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic …” (Num. 11:6).

But our wilderness experience was not that difficult. In fact we headed for The Wilderness because it was a gorgeous spring morning. The afternoon high was 81°. The grass is green. A few trees are starting to bud. The daffodils were waving in the breeze.

I saw in the Sioux City Journal this morning that officials in South Dakota are strongly recommending no travel because of a winter storm that will drop 8″ to 14″ of snow (along with freezing rain) across the state, mostly north of I-90.

Brrrr! I think that maybe I’ll extend my stay in The Wilderness from 40 minutes to 40 days or so.

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