Spiritual Life: Time In A ‘Wilderness’ May Allow For Reflection On Life

By Timothy J. Ledbetter
Tri-City Herald

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Chaplain Timothy J. Ledbetter shares his thoughts on “going into the wilderness.” As he says, “Wilderness can be anywhere: forest, desert, personal circumstance, or time of life.”

Tri-City Herald

So there you are, moving along just fine.

Maybe you’re hiking in nature or strolling in the city. It could involve a long process or a fleeting awareness.

Perhaps it’s about your career trajectory or your retirement plans. You know where you are, what you are doing, what is helping you get to where you are going, and so forth.

And then it happens, or you discover it has happened. You are lost or disoriented; wandering in a strange, bewildering setting. You don’t know where you are, what you are doing, or how to get to your intended destination.

In such moments, you may realize you are in a wilderness time and or place, echoing some version of Dorothy’s exclamation in “The Wizard of Oz.”

Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore!

In the wilderness, nothing is familiar. There are no recognizable signs or landmarks. Perspective is distorted or significantly dimmed. Progress fades or ceases. Productivity seems nonexistent.

Wilderness can be anywhere: forest, desert, personal circumstance, or time of life. Wilderness times or places can occur between old situations and new, or between times of loss and of gain; they are often places of darkness and loneliness.

Rarely does one venture into a wilderness on purpose. If one does, it likely is for a larger goal or intention of self-discovery or self-fulfillment: hiking the Pacific Crest Trail or walking El Camino de Santiago, taking a sabbatical or extended leave of absence.

No, usually we are thrust or shoved into the wilderness, not of our own will or doing. This forced alteration in reality or routine is a common media theme, including books like “The Swiss Family Robinson” or “Gulliver’s Travels,” or movies such as “Castaway.”

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