for the person who keeps searching my site looking for wilderness stations…

there are none to be found on the site, but you did start me thinking about what i’d do.

these are the random thoughts i’ve had – not polished, not finished, not to be analysed or exegeted … just a friday afternoon, 10 minutes to spare, random creative exercise. maybe i’d do it as a labyrinth, perhaps cover the basement floor with sand and mark the labyrinth into it…

too tired to wander

in the relentlessness of this heat,
with the incessant swarming
of flies,
and the itch of ants
that trawl over my feet
i long for any visitor
be they devil or angel

someone who lets me know
i am still alive…

some end up
in the wilderness
by mistake
– you, perhaps? –
taking a wrong turn
from a street that was crowded
into one that was empty
until you found yourself
in a place where the streetmap doesn’t reach

if lent finds you in a place you longer recognise
in a faith that has no street map
where the crowds left long ago
you will know there is no easy comfort to be found

but if you wait, in the silence

maybe you can hear the stories of those who have walked the wilderness before
whispered in the wind
and the sand
and the silence

what are they saying?

they say the landscape is harsh here –
resilient, tough, unbreakable.
yet every chasm and gorge tells otherwise

of a story a million years old,
of the world ripping apart
of ruptures and rents
of rock crushing rock

the beauty of this wilderness
is made only through its fragility.

i confess
i would rather not be fragile
and i do not have the faith
to believe that the broken is always made beautiful

or that it is worth the cost.

that may be the step of faith
i need to take this lent.

is the wilderness everywhere that isn’t home?
everywhere your footing isn’t certain
everywhere you have to measure
water and food
words and thoughts
and carefully
because you do not know how long they need to last.

is the wilderness the place
where the easy answer
[the stone,
the temple,
the kingdom]
seems the only answer.

where or what is my wilderness?

what do i need to survive it?

there are those of us
for whom lost-ness
does not come from not knowing where we are
or from being alone.

there are those of us
for whom wilderness isn’t being away
it’s being with.

there are those of us
in this world
who are always
in the wilderness…

jesus is with us for this 40 days.
what do we need to tell him
about what it’s like for us here?

did you know what you would do, god
when you turned down the stone
and walked away from the temple?
did you have another plan?
or did you just know that one wouldn’t work?

am i ready for you to have no answers?
am i ready for your salvation to be different
to every idea i might have had?

[and i’d use this image from ellery creek somewhere…]



  1. craig

    lovely writing…. you so easily touch on all of the big existential questions.

    wilderness stations??? pick me! pick me! I can even supply the sand…..

  2. Cheryl

    bring it on. though i’m not sure how you could get it here – would the car suspension make it that far?

    do you think there’s any such thing as existential answers?

  3. ben

    hey cheryl…

    this moved me.

    i love the desert, and i hear it speaking to me similar things as this expression…

    i like u left it raw, random and creative…

    kind of like the wilderness…

    beautiful and terrible and ummm… a word like “full”…but something that also conveys emptiness.


  4. Mike R

    Well, at the risk of sounding like a troll, the person looking for Wildernesses could always go to moot’s blog at

    We’ve been running an event called “Beyond the Wilderness” for about 2 weeks, now!

  5. craig

    did I write that? mmm… sorry. damn bottled grapes I’d say. apology. the previous compliment was genuine. i refuse to use your blog to promote my own wilderness ideas on my blog though. damn. is it that late again? blogging at this hour is now forbidden.

    I’ve given up being comprehensible for lent.

  6. Cheryl

    craig, i thought it was very funny!!

    Mike, if i were in London i’d certainly go visit the moot thing…

  7. Martin

    I’m reading Belden Lane’s wonderful book “The Solace of Fierce Landscapes and was digging around this site for wilderness stations…

    there are those of us
    in this world
    who are always
    in the wilderness

  8. Mike R

    …and we’d love to see you!

    I don’t think I’ve met you personally before, but your legend precedes you…

    Will you be at Greenbelt this year?

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