a poetic reflection on Mark 1:1-13: “And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.”

I try to imagine sometimes

What it would be like

To have witnessed the most amazing moment

Of Jesus being baptized in the Jordan

And the heavens cheering approval…

Doves, heavenly weather displays and  “the voice”…

All the powers 

Of the Holy Spirit

On full enthusiastic display.


Yet, presumably…

this same spirit

is what immediately drives him into the wilderness,

the land of snakes and scorpions.

A dangerous place

where water is scarce,

and food is scarcer,

and the equatorial sun

can parch the life out of anyone.


Jesus had no time to enjoy the moment…

nor did those present that day

get to talk to him

about the meaning of what had taken place.


They had only one another

to bounce around what they had seen,

perhaps over a cup of wine,

a meal,

or the waning coals of a campfire

on their journeys home.


And how were they to explain

what they had experienced

to those who hadn’t accompanied them…

and who would even believe it?


Perhaps decades later,

when it was clear

that Christianity had been fully born,

the ones who remained from that day–

older, more world-weary, and wizened–

still found tattered bits of hope from that amazing day

to help them wake up tomorrow,

arthritic limbs, fuzzy vision, faltering gait and all,

and face another day of old age.


And although our minds usually focus,

when we hear this story,

on Christ’s temptation and the forty days ahead,

I can’t help but wonder

if the bigger story

was about all those

where nothing happened

yet they had the rest of their lives 

to ponder its meaning.

Image: The baptism of Jesus, as depicted at Yesus Church, Axum (Aksum), Ethiopia.  Photo by Adam Jones, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Maria Evans splits her week between being a pathologist and laboratory director in Kirksville, MO, and gratefully serving in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri , as Interim Priest at Trinity Episcopal Church in Hannibal, MO. 

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