My Redeemer in the Wilderness

by Ariana D. Den Bleyker

That he might be tempted, that in Him Adam & Eve, Job, Israel’s golden calf, and ourselves, might walk this dark yet strangely tempting valley to dwell in the house of the Lord forever, a house darkened by no shadow of temptation, no lust, no ambition, no avarice. That I was hungry, tongue scorched white, turned inside myself against the wilderness, having known times of suffering, the weeping tarries of night & the morning’s joy hard fought for. The battle for faith ugly, the refining fire excruciating. There is no strength in myself deepened by suffering, union with God, weakness & vulnerability. & it’s true that I found Him, shriveled with hunger, shivering in the desert, skeletal, emaciated, nothing to warm his bones once the bright sun set, & we spent hours discussing God at the mouth of His cave. I heard the dull, hollow echo of silence, a strange communion between us, waves taking shape in His features. I saw Him delving deep into death, the last dance delayed. He knows the way there, knows the front door to the silent garden, begs to take us there to our shadowy oasis in a wave of drought, like looking into a mirror at Adam or Job, lonely in their grief & isolation, led into temptation to crown all temptations. That I watched him sit at God’s table, full of fear for my own fragility & wondered how He dared own so much of Himself, openly, wanting to dare to believe some things in this world must be far too lovely to ever be broken—my body dust & bone, criminal in my living as seemingly innocent as rain. That I can take Him as my companion in suffering. Eat & sleep beside him. Walk behind Him blindfolded, shared wounds, learning how not to abandon the body’s weight, & how to make the body expand, to keep becoming, until even the danger could not swallow me, to watch what falls from the sky in those moments we know brokenness with an urge to be true, to have a taste of Heaven & quench the need of being human, to believe in light radiating, penetrating my body neither ether nor the Word incarnate. That I am letting go to God’s power made perfect in my weakness.

Ariana D. Den Bleyker is a Pittsburgh native currently residing in New York’s Hudson Valley where she is a wife and mother of two. When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with her family and every once in a while sleeps. She is the author of three collections and twenty chapbooks, among others. She is the founder and publisher of ELJ Editions, Ltd., a 501(c)3 literary nonprofit. She hopes you’ll fall in love with her words.

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