During his time in the Holy Land, Bishop Frank and 30 Young Adults took a surprise detour to the desert before entering the holy city of Jerusalem. Read his reflection from that surprising moment here:
One of the most powerful moments during my recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land was an unexpected detour into the Judean desert. Our guide, Father Paul, called it his “surprise”. In fact, the Lord also had many surprises to offer me and my fellow pilgrims during the 30 minutes we spent in the desert.
The spot that we visited was a cliff that overlooked a deep valley in which an ancient Roman aqueduct continues to this day to provide water to an ancient Greek Orthodox monastery that was carved into the stone wall located on opposite side of the valley. The landscape was stark and seeming dead. Father asked us to sit quietly, to empty our minds and discover why the desert played such an important role in the life of Saint John the Baptist and more importantly, the Lord Jesus.
As I stood in silence, I became quickly aware of the sound of the water echoing in my ears. I began to feel at peace despite the harshness of the surroundings. While there was a great emptiness, I also began to sense that the desert had its own life that I did not initially sense. As I began to calm my mind and heart, I soon began to feel a great sense of belonging- a feeling that the Lord was very close to me, offering Himself to me without the distractions of my ordinarily life. I soon found myself praying deeply without even realizing it.
Since that afternoon, my thoughts have often returned to that stark and empty place, precisely because it was not empty at all. The Lord dwells there in His power and love, offering anyone who wishes to find Him in its quiet and simplicity. Now that I am home, I want to re-enter the desert every day. For the desert is anywhere you and I are willing to sit in quiet, empty our thoughts and allow the Lord to come to us in His love.