Here’s a piece of reflection from Sacred Space. This site of daily online prayers is maintained by the Irish Jesuits.
“What does the desert signify in the story of the people of Israel, of John the Baptist, and then Jesus
himself? It was not a destination, but a place for travellers going somewhere, journeying to a new life. Jesus had gone into the desert an unknown young carpenter from Nazareth, with thirty years of hidden life behind him. After the desert he returned to Galilee with power of the Spirit in him, and started to preach. Quickly he became a public figure, but he loved to withdraw to desert or mountain to recharge his energies by prayer. He moved forward like any of us, with no sure knowledge of what was to happen him. His life was shaped by the spirit driving him forward, but shaped also by the accidents of his life, the enthusiasm of some of his listeners and the resistance of others. He had a sense of where God was calling him (¬‘I am sent to cast fire on the earth.’ Luke 12:49) and of the joy he felt in this vocation (‘My meat is to do the will of him who sent me.’ John 4:34) After the quiet life of Nazareth, Jesus’ public life was tumultuous. If we are to do justice to his humanity, we must accept that he did not know what would happen next, only that this was where God wanted him to be.
Most of us could point to a similar second calling, though we might not think of it in that way. A second journey like this is not an easy option. It means casting adrift from the security you have enjoyed, not knowing where the road will take you. In all this journeying we are looking for light from the Lord, as John Henry Cardinal Newman expressed it,
Lead, kindly light, amid the encircling gloom, lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home, lead thou me on!”