The trip we were on must have taken place over thirty years ago and I retain no memories except for that precious moment when nothing happened.The fact that we stopped is remarkable enough because we usually rush from place to place and stops are a waste of time in the Graham book of travel rules.But there we were, staring out at an eternity of rolling, colored hills.Being used to hemmed in areas of pines and oaks,I was enchanted ."This is the West,"I thought
and then I heard this:"This is Who I am.This great empty silence."
Those words are carved in my soul.So many have been called by this great silence from the beginnings of the Christian faith.Stumbling,long haired ,wild eyed men and women,running from the noise,the deadening distractions.Seeking the "I,who am" in the howling wilderness.
Today's Thomas Merton reading quotes the Rules for Recluses:"Nothing is more necessary than to adore the living God."And recluses from all the ages have heard the call of the desert ,summoning their unshod feet to leave all,shun all, shuck all and go out to the silence.
I think that the soul craves this.
I keep tripping over Charles de Foucald, one of my 2013 companions.When Charles was murdered by the very people he had served for so long,he left no one to carry out his work.It looked as though his call had borne little fruit.But now ,I keep finding people that were drawn to the desert in his footsteps. Brennan Manning went there on a sabbatical from the Franciscans and lived in a cave in prayer.I read his meditations every day.Today, ushered onto my path is one Carlo Carretto,who gave up his life in his 40s and joined The Little Brothers of Jesus, the followers of Charles ,in the ministry of loving the people of desert Africa.
The call of Carlo came to him while in prayer:"Come with Me into the desert.There is something much greater than human action-prayer.And it has a power much stronger than the words of men-love."Carlo packed his bag and left.And the silent sands of the desert swallowed him up.