Lent Devotional: Monday, March 25

In the Highways, In the Hedges
When gold was discovered in California in 1849, Americans from the East traveled there on foot, by wagon train, and even with hand carts. So swiftly did they journey that by 1850 California became a State, separated from the rest of the Union by thousands of miles. Much of what these early settlers passed after leaving the Eastern woodlands was viewed simply as barren, worthless desert. Sadly, our treatment of those vast spaces, and of the peoples who inhabited them, was not always what it should have been. And it was not until decades later that our eyes opened to the vast grasslands, the Rocky Mountains, and the arid regions of the Southwest as places of beauty and promise, worthy of our love and preservation.
So it is with our lives. We traverse the good times and the bad, often seeking only times of ease and suppressing our memories of wasteland sojourns. And yet each personal wilderness has the potential to serve as a forge upon which the human spirit may be heated, hammered, made strong, and fully formed.
Few escape the wilderness times, whether the illness or death of a loved one; a friend's betrayal; the agony of a divorce; the scourge of poverty; or the simple solitude of loneliness and depression. Some emerge from sojourns in the wilds with greater strength of character and resolve. Others remain lost there. All who attempt the journey have scars, and the scars remind us of the struggle to find our way to the garden places.
For we who emerge from the jornada, our scars also remind us to look back. Others remain in the wilderness. We know the way out, and they need our help.

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