Thomas McKenzie
by grace alone
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In the Desert


I go into the desert every year. I have a tradition of taking one week a year and going on retreat to the Monastery of Christ in the Desert. This is that week.

Taking the trip to the desert is a spiritual pilgrimage for me. I have a specific way of doing things, places I go, things I do and don't bring. While at the monastery, I do my best to engage in the pattern of the monks. Worship, prayer, work, rest--all following the Rule of St. Benedict.

I have been to many monasteries and stayed in a few. Of them all, I have never found a place that speaks to my soul as deeply as does Christ in the Desert. It is completely removed from society, miles and miles and miles from its nearest neighbor. It is off the grid, isolated, austere. It is a place of deep reverence. Of all the places I go in any given year, it is the place I am most likely to hear the voice of God, the voice of the Devil, and the voice of my inner self. I must go without expectations, in part because my expectations are always violated.

Sometimes I go with a friend; this year I go with Christ alone. I believe that this is a good time for that. I am looking forward to this trip, and there is part of me that can't believe the time is here again.

I will miss my wife and kids, and will stay in contact with them. They are my heart.

If you have a moment, pray for me. Pray for safety, but pray most that I may know God. I will see many of you again this Sunday morning.