From the Prophet Isaiah:
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.
(From the Daily Office Lectionary – Isaiah 35:1-2 (NRSV) – December 24, 2012.)
I was born and raised in the desert. The image of wilderness and dry land blossoming is one that touches my heart and excites my imagination. I love the desert. I love its stark and barren beauty, when the rains of spring kiss it and it blossoms . . . there’s nothing like it anywhere else.
I live in north central Ohio now, near Cleveland. It’s a claustrophobic landscape to the desert-born. Instead of distant horizons, there are hills covered with trees. They’re lovely but they block one’s view of the distance; they’re close, sometimes too close.
Several weeks ago my wife and I traveled to the desert where we both were born and raised. It was a sad trip; her father had died and we were going to his funeral. Although it was an unhappy trip, there was a point driving on the interstate heading west out of the Wasatch Mountains of Utah when the wide-open desert opened up before us and my soul soared – I was home! The landscape stretched ahead of me unblocked by any hill, any tree, any obstruction; the horizon was distant and beckoning
Christmas is like that. The Infant comes to us in the desert of the Holy Land opening the future before us; the future stretches ahead unblocked, unobstructed, distant, and beckoning.
Christmas is a promise. The promise of a wide-open future. What becomes of that promise is up to us.
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Father Funston is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.
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