Wilderness Temptation

He came up from the Jordan.
Still damp from his cleansing passage,
He wandered into my rocky wastes,
His footprints vanishing
as wind blew over sandy ground.
He seemed in no hurry to get somewhere.
Soon he was covered with my dust
His sweat made marks like tear tracks on his face.
When He grew thirsty,
He found my hidden pools
at the foot of the mountains.
He slept in a cave carved into a hill.

I heard Him talking
to the one who created me
As if talking to a parent.
Sometimes, He laughed.
Sometimes, He wept.
Sometimes, He spent all night
Sitting and looking up at the starts
Spangling the night sky.
He watched the moon change
from dark to full to dark again.

Days passed and he did not eat.
Still He did not leave.
He grew lean with waiting.
Then one day He met with someone,
Someone who came to challenge Him
To take control of His life’s work.

The tempter said
“You’re hungry. You have the power
To create bread from stones.
Use it to feed yourself so you will have strength to continue.”
He replied, “Man does not live by bread alone but by the Word of God.”

Again, the tempter tried to seduce
Him to turn aside from his journey.
Taking him to a place overlooking the world,
The tempter offered him ultimate power
If He would worship the giver of that power.
He replied, “Only God is worthy of worship.
The price of the power you offer is too high.”

Finally, the tempter took him to a high place.
Quoting scripture, he argued “If God loves you,
He has promised to keep you safe.
Prove it by jumping off this cliff.
Surely the God you worship
will provide a miracle to save your life.”
He replied, “Do not tempt the Lord God
who controls both life and death.”

When he heard this rebuke, the tempter fled.
The One who had walked my land for so many days
Was ministered to by Angels;
Changed by his journey,
Left to go back to his life in the world.
I will miss the sound of his footsteps on my sand.

Ruth Meredith, 2020

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