Welcome to the Wilderness

Welcome to the wilderness. It’s fitting that we are in the season of Lent, walking with Jesus through unknown territory. No one knows what to do here, we are all anxious, uncertain, and fearful. And yet, when I think about this time, I am reminded of an article I read that examined what to do when you are hiking and find yourself lost in the woods. 
The best thing you can do is stop. Stop moving, and also stop to observe, think, and plan. These things that allow us to remember where we are, and remind us what we are capable of. So maybe in this time of the unknown we can take a page of the wilderness and stop where we are, take a deep breath, and remember that we belong to one another, that we are the body of Christ, even in the face of this uncertain time. 
Maybe we all just need a moment to stop. 
S – stop moving. Frantically moving faster will only get you more lost. Sit, and breathe from your belly (short quick breaths only increase the symptoms of anxiety – lightheadedness, trembling, confusion). Drink and eat. Take care of yourself. 
T – stop and think. Ask yourself some basic questions. Which direction were you going? What was the last landmark you recognized? How long ago was that? Where was the last time you knew where you were? What is motivating you? Is it fear? Is it scarcity? 
O – stop and observe. Look around you: can you see any landmarks? How do you feel? How are the people around you? Are the people around you struggling? Is there anything you can do to care for them? Is there anything you can do to care for yourself? 
P – stop and plan. What is the next right step? How do we continue to be the body of Christ when we are facing new limitations? How do we create community in new ways? What does the next step look like? You don’t have to have it all figured out, just one step at a time. 
Let this time remind us to slow down, pay attention, and notice. How we encounter one another, and ourselves matters. Let us move from a place of love, hope, patience, and care into this uncertain time, remembering who and whose we are. 
Rev. Rachel Penmore
Campus Minister
UKirk UTK

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