Lent 1: In the Desert of the Beloved

 Image: Desert of the Beloved © Jan Richardson
Reading from the Gospels, Lent 1, Year C: Luke 4.1–13

How else to enter into the forty-day place that lay ahead of him? How else to cross into the wilderness where he would have no food, no community, nothing that was familiar to him—and, to top it off, would have to wrestle with the devil? How else, but to go into that landscape with the knowledge of his own name: Beloved.

—Jan Richardson, from Lent 1: Beloved Is Where We Begin
The Painted Prayerbook, February 2016

We have traveled through many Lenten seasons here at The Painted Prayerbook; this one will be our twelfth. For our first Sunday in Lent this time around, I wanted to share a blessing from one of those seasons past. I hold you in prayer and gratitude as we cross into whatever terrain these days will hold. May we enter with the name Beloved echoing in our heart.

Beloved Is Where We Begin

If you would enter
into the wilderness,
do not begin
without a blessing.

Do not leave
without hearing
who you are:
named by the One
who has traveled this path
before you.

Do not go
without letting it echo
in your ears,
and if you find
it is hard
to let it into your heart,
do not despair.
That is what
this journey is for.

I cannot promise
this blessing will free you
from danger,
from fear,
from hunger
or thirst,
from the scorching
of sun
or the fall
of the night.

But I can tell you
that on this path
there will be help.

I can tell you
that on this way
there will be rest.

I can tell you
that you will know
the strange graces
that come to our aid
only on a road
such as this,
that fly to meet us
bearing comfort
and strength,
that come alongside us
for no other cause
than to lean themselves
toward our ear
and with their
curious insistence
whisper our name:


 —Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons

For previous reflections for the first Sunday of Lent, including reflections on the related gospel readings:

Lent 1: Where the Breath Begins
First Sunday of Lent: And the Angels Waited
Day 2: Up from the Water
Day 3: Into the Wilderness
Day 4: With the Wild Beasts
Lent 1: A Blessing for the Wilderness
Lent 1: Into the Wilderness
Lent 1: A River Runs through Him
Lent 1: Discernment and Dessert in the Desert

Using Jan’s artwork
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Using Jan’s words
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