returning from the wilderness

art journal spread of sun and sunset

For my last birthday, a dear friend of mine gifted me with Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, by Christopher Moore. Throughout this irreverent-yet-loving fictional account of the life of Jesus between the age of 12 and his death, Jesus periodically heads out into the wilderness seeking answers from his father (God). Biff, Jesus’ childhood pal, waits patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) for him to return – often biding his time by enjoying as many of life’s pleasures as he can find. Eventually Jesus always comes back from the wilderness, although unfortunately often not with the answers that he was seeking.

When you’re engaging in conscious ritual, you’re taking a journey to the wilderness – even if you’re in the midst of a group of people. And by wilderness I don’t mean desert – although sometimes the journey can feel harsh and difficult. I mean a truly wild place – a place beyond civilized society. When you engage in ritual, you are dancing with the gods, in their territory. And you can’t stay there. Eventually, you have to return to your regular, waking life – full of its mundane tasks and obligations. Part of our growth and development as human beings is developing a strong, yet flexible enough, ego to return to our daily lives without blowing our circuits from flying too close to the sun, or getting lost in the wilderness forever. At the end of the ritual, you must come back from the wild places and be human again.

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Art journal spread Sun’s Warmth, February 2006. Wax crayon and collage on paper.