The longest Lent

I wonder if it was like that in the wilderness: a few days of fasting, hunger and thirst. The rasp of a throat full of sand singing aimlessly aloud to stave off the fear of aloneness, uniqueness, isolation. A moment of panic, a dream of clarity, then the morning filled with terrifying sunlight and an endless, empty horizon, without so much as a mirage to offer direction. The day he knew he was in it for the long haul.

After forty days, he was tempted to give it up: the faith, the fast, the body, lay down among the dry bones. But after that defeat, how much longer did he stay, licked over by the wild beasts for the salt of his skin, loved by the angels for the breath of his spirit? One does not dare to say.

By the time he returned to the river it might look like life or death: slaking and cleansing, cooling and roiling, submerging and subduing. He might have been tempted to stay there three whole days, lying on the river bed, the water winding him in weeds, drinking in the opposite of desert.

Instead, he returned to Galilee and its green hills, its grounded fishermen, their families and their fevers, their foolish hillside hunger, their desolation, and their devotion. He loved their humanity, his humanity, after all, even after his longest trial yet.

About Rosalind C Hughes

Rosalind C Hughes is a priest and author living near the shores of Lake Erie. After growing up in England and Wales, and living briefly in Singapore, she is now settled in Ohio. She serves an Episcopal church just outside Cleveland. Rosalind is the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing (Upper Room Books, 2020). She loves the lake, misses the ocean, and is finally coming to terms with snow.
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