Wilderness is a beautiful metaphor in the Hebrew Bible.
It’s not so beautiful when you’re going through it, but it’s a beautiful image for the times in your life where you’re in-between. Theologians call it “liminal space,” a space of not-yet, a space of transition. It’s a time where you’re headed somewhere and you’re figuring things out. It’s a time of struggle. It’s a time of figuring out, What in the world am I doing here? What does this all mean?
The way I see it, there’s three types of wilderness. There’s the wilderness you must go through, in order to get where you need to go. There’s the wilderness others put you through, and it’s tough times that really didn’t need to happen and there aren’t really any answers for why you’re there in the first place. And there’s wilderness that happens when you get lost along the way. Maybe you forgot who you were or where you were going. And then, there you are.
Moses asks God a question that is a very human question for the wilderness: “How shall I know I have found favor in your sight unless you go with us?”
Or, how do I know I’m doing okay if I feel like I’m going it alone?
God’s answer is kind of weird. God says, okay, you hide in that rock over there, I’m going to blindfold you, and then I’m going to moon you. Yeah, I’m going to show you MY BUTT.
In a way, it kind of makes sense. If God is really God, like a super incomprehensible divine being of creation, and power, and love, and community, and beauty, and light, then yeah, we’d be pretty blinded by looking at God. Looking at God’s butt might be a little less overwhelming.
I think of Faith Aloud as an organization that travels with people through the wilderness, and helps them through. If it’s the type of wilderness that others are putting people through, the kind that makes them question whether life is really worth it, or whether they’ll ever get home, we help people avoid that.
Our mission statement is: “Guided by faith and rooted in community, Faith Aloud engages people to create a just society in which healthy sexual, reproductive, and parenting choices are freely made.” Locally, and nationwide, we work with people across faith traditions and denominations to accomplish this mission. We provide the only nationwide all-options clergy counseling service for people making reproductive decisions, we advocate for medically-accurate sexual health education, for healthcare access including Medicaid expansion, for racial equality and an end to police brutality through the Don’t Shoot Coalition, and we stand in solidarity for economic justice through the Jobs with Justice coalition.
God’s answer to Moses is: “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
It helps when someone is willing to travel through the wilderness with you. No one should have to travel alone.