Day 105- The Blooming Mile

“Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping.” John 20:11

When the other disciples returned home, Mary did not. Attached to her Lord and overcome by grief, Mary stayed weeping by the tomb. Unable to remember the scriptures or unaware of them in that moment, she was consumed by her feelings of loss and loneliness. The one who had saved her, who had made her new was now gone. And she left with this new life in Him, was alive in her skin but dead in her soul, dependent on Him for every breath of her life. 

Mary’s weeping is the loneliness we feel in our sorrow and grief when we know the truth but are overcome by human emotion. We, like Mary, can choose in those moments to stay outside the tomb and wait for Him or take our sorrow into the world where it will quickly be tossed aside.

The greatest comfort of Christ is found beside the tomb

Why is it that in our greatest sadness, Christ comes to us more real and prevalent than ever before? Because He is the One that knows sadness and grief, because He had to die to be glorified, because we have a high priest who sympathizes with us in our greatest weakness. Jesus did not come to prove to the world that God was real, Jesus came to show the world what God looks like with skin on.

In our human flesh, the divinity of God is a mystery that we can hardly understand. We can understand Jesus because He looked, talked and ate just like us. He experienced human emotion, made friends and was part of a family. Jesus was relatable because He became poor, not in the monetary sense, but in the sense of spirit. He knew what it was like to be human.

So when we come to Him empty, He knows that emptiness- He experienced it cold and alone in that tomb. He has encountered all that life has to offer, which is nothing outside of Himself. And that’s why Mary was weeping, because she knew and understood that. She knew that without Him, she was nothing. What she failed to realize was that He was always with her, stronger than ever before, defeating death for her so she could live fully and eternally on earth as it is in heaven.

But the depths of Mary’s despair are a beautiful reminder of her deep love for Christ, her self -realization that He was everything to her, and her inability to move on with her life without Him. And this should be our story too. To sit by the tomb with Mary and miss Him, to come to the self-realization that we have filled our emptiness with things other than Him and to reconcile ourselves to Him. Time beside the tomb weeping is not wasted time, it is precious.

The seeds of our tears produce the flowers growing beside the tomb of Christ

Today, spend some time beside the tomb, engaging in this spiritual exercise.

Sit in Silence.  Allow any emotion that comes to you to flow. And allow yourself to be reconciled to your Lord- for the things you have not done, have not said. For the people you have not invited back in. Allow His forgiveness to flow, from His heart to yours. Hear Him say your name, because He knows it. Sit in the intimacy of the moment. Allow His love to flow through you. Do not leave the tomb until your tears and joy are taken care. Until you hear Him call your name. Until you see the flowers bloom.

Day 104- The Mile I left the tomb

“And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.” Matthew 28:9

Two minutes before, the women were still at the tomb, afraid. The lover of their soul was not there, and they experienced a mix of fear and joy like never before. A healthy and reverent fear of God mixed with the joy of Easter, knowing that everything was about to change.

Easter was not spent at a temple or a church, it was spent at a tomb

Empty, cold and lifeless. And the first Easter included only two women, unknown to the world, and without titles or fame. Yet the Lord chose them as His resurrection disciples, why? To show the world that He chooses the weak things of this world to shame the wise. That forever and in eternity these women will  be known, loved, and adored by our resurrected King. In God’s economy, the weakest are the most powerful, for they hold the keys to the Kingdom.

Why did the angel first invite the women to see the inside of the tomb before he admonished them to go quickly into Galilee? Because one must spend some time inside of the tomb before experiencing the joy of Easter. And Jesus admonishes us to do the same.

This message can be lost if we do not fully transition ourselves from Lent to Easter. If we do not leave the emptiness of the tomb behind for something more. Jesus is telling us not to stay there. Not to stay in sadness and mourning, but to enter divine joy. 

This may be hard for us to do right now. Our Easters may have felt lonely and cold. We may have felt empty inside, missing friends and family, and our memories. Many people around the world were also ready to enter the church on Easter, and now find themselves still desperate and waiting for our Lord. This message is for them too.

Today, we are not at the tomb. Our emptiness must subside. Today, the Lord will meet us wherever we are, unable to move, moving or walking backwards. In that, get down on your knees and pay Him homage. If you are able to do that you are not inside the tomb, you are in the sunlight of Easter.

 

 

Day 103- The Resurrection Mile

“On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb”

John 20:1

While we still lie in darkness, while the earth lies in gloom, we slowly slip away to visit the place where our Lord is buried, to marvel with Mary of Magdala, at the stone that had been rolled away with wonderment and awe. The earth is heavy, but the heavenly grave is not, filled with hope and the anticipation of a new day. In the darkness, we are with her, tears and smiling, knowing that we do not have to see His body to believe in His resurrection. The emptiness testifies to it, that is where He is.

In the thickest of fog and dark night of the soul is the voice of our Lord. He is with us in our deepest pain, creating joy in madness. And when we see the emptiness, we do not run away from it, but towards it, to marvel at the work of the cross. What a great mystery!

To find God, one must come running to nothingness

When we’ve abandoned ourselves, our ideas of who God is and what He looks like, we too can visit the tomb with Mary. But unlike Mary, we can run with confidence back to our homes, our friends, and shout, He is not there! He has been raised!

It is the great hope of Easter that makes me a Christian. The knowing that out of the darkness will come a great light.

The embrace of the dawn, just before the rising of the sun, is the embrace of Christ

We are an Easter people. We believe in the darkness. We rejoice at the grave. We see the miracle in the dark sky before the sun has arrived. This is God’s grace.

What other faith do we need? Is there another promise that can bring us gladness? Everyday on the calendar is spent in the joyful hope of Easter, knowing that God has bigger and greater plans for us, on earth as it is in heaven.

Why do we seek the living among the dead? We know darkness because we know light. Today, let the emptiness of the tomb fill us as we await our Risen King.

Let us be an Easter people for our Lord

 

Day 100- The Mile I stopped to wash your feet

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”

St. Teresa of Calcutta

It is a concept that Mother Teresa touted but was little understood by the masses.  Person to person interaction. The act of one. 

Although the culture lifts up Mother Teresa as a demi-god, her heart is often misunderstood. Her lessons are deeper and more profound then simply serving the poor and the dying.

Her heart was for the dignity of the human person. The right to die with love. And the understanding that we are all poor and dying, each of us in our way.

As a young Jewish girl, Mother Teresa’s impact on my life was profound and I invested in her philosophy of servitude and deep love. In her acts of kindness and humility, I found the God of love, and unconsciously my soul opened up when it contemplated service to others.

As a sexual abuse survivor living in the 1990’s, there were no outlets of help. My cries became muted and I had to move on. My body was dead but my soul was not, in fact it was the only thing that was keeping me alive…

It is important to note that our deepest purpose comes from our deepest pain. In God’s economy, he uses it all, every last bit of it. In understanding Mother Teresa’s profound love in service, I found a way to express my pain in a tangible and healthy way, pouring myself out like a libation for others. The more I gave, the more I healed, and I soon found myself at the feet of the least and lost of our society.

How was I able to serve them? That’s easy.

I was one of them.

The difference for me from death to life was the understanding that self-loathing is different than humility. Hating one’s self is contradictory to the very essence of who God is, as I learned later on as a Christian. That we are made in the image and likeness of our Heavenly Father, and God cannot hate himself. 

Therefore, humility was an entirely new concept to me. That I did not have to hate myself to love God. No, quite the opposite was true! I had to love myself in order to love Him and serve Him. It was only after this great epiphany that I was able to heal.

I served whoever I could and made it my life. I started when I was sixteen and never stopped. The ability to begin the healing process without a single word spoken was powerful and set the stage for the plans that God had for my life. It seemed that there was no triumph or tribulation that I couldn’t endure- until I couldn’t.

You see service without the consciousness of God is simply that- service. It is self-reliant and many times full of pride- indulging ourselves in our “good works” to show the world. Service becomes a resume and an ego builder, and not an act of humility before the divine master, even for those of us that have committed our lives to public service.

And so through my transformation of being in Christ, my healing through recovery, and my service back to my sisters who were also victims of sexual abuse, I learned how to wash the feet of my Master.

We often think of this scene with Jesus, the washing of the feet, as us having to go out and wash the feet of the “poor” in the secular sense. If in fact you look at the sentence again, Jesus admonishes his followers to wash “one another’s feet.” In other words, each disciple should wash the feet of the other disciple. He is saying in fact to you, who do you consider your equal? Wash that person’s feet.

That is humility.

This will look different for everyone. As you examine this verse again and think of your colleagues or those you identify most with, the thought of serving those people may be more difficult for you than to go out and feed the homeless. This is exactly what Jesus is talking about. The kind of service that nobody sees. The kind that you wouldn’t tell anyone about.

We are supposed to serve those people that God has brought into our lives, even if some of those people are in our lives temporarily. It could be people you work with, family members, ministries you are involved with, or friends.

If it is easy, you are probably not serving the right group of people, try again. 

“For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” Luke 6:32

Day 97- The Mile I Broke

The dance of the perfumed oil was not the smell of life, but that of death. It was a preparation, a love story, a total consecration. The one whose heart beat for the one whose heart would soon be stopped. 

The scene of Mary anointing the feet of Jesus and drying them with her hair is a movement of love. It is an act of worship, a passionate “yes.” The contradiction of the time was that is was in fact a  woman, and not a man, who was performing this religious ritual. It was Mary who was preparing Jesus for death.

The subtlety of the movement can be lost if we expect complicated answers. Worship is not an act that is performed for others, it is an act performed for one. 

Her movement was intentional, the dowry that was all that she had, the most precious gift.

The very thing that was meant to make her was the very thing that she gave away

The costly bottle of nard was the entirety of her inheritance, what the world had given to define what she might have been. And while for years the fragrant nard sat listless in that bottle, it came alive at the feet of Jesus with purpose and meaning.

The breaking of the fragrant oil at the feet of Christ was not a waste, it was a rebellion 

And while we contemplate this one small act, this sacred mystery of what that nard may have smelled like, the sweet smell that reaches our nostrils should remind us of the sweetness and the sorrow of preparing ourselves for Holy Week. We too are to prepare the body of our Lord for proper burial, but how do we do that?

By breaking our most precious possession, by breaking our alabaster box

It has been several weeks since our vulnerabilities have been exposed, since time at home has forced us to stare into the eyes of our maker. We have found ourselves helpless, crying, desperate and out of control. We have realized that we are small.

And in that smallness, we have either continued to live our lives as if God did not exist, or we like Mary, have fallen at the feet of Christ and found ourselves desperate and unworthy. Mary did not break that alabaster jar to have it go to waste, we too should not break ours without counting the cost.

And what is it in your alabaster jar that you do not want to break it?

Do you refuse to give alms because the church is closed?

Have you accumulated earthly treasures that you have hoarded away?

Are you holding on to that very important thing- your job, your pride, whatever it is that you refuse to let go, refuse to break, because you think that it belongs to you?

Would you not rather be able to break that alabaster box of your own free will in an act of worship and total devotion to God rather than have the sin of man break it for you?

What is in your alabaster box?

Sit with these questions. The answers will come to you. If it’s all that you have, if it is everything, you must count the cost.

Have you truly counted the cost of being a follower of Christ?

It will cost you everything…

Heavenly Father,

I have been clutching my alabaster box close to me and am unwilling to break it for you. Now before your passion and death, I beg of you to expose me, to help me to break it, so that I can be free to serve you with my whole heart. I have waited for this very moment, like Mary, to give myself away to you, as the bride does for her bridegroom. I am here at your feet, box in hand, waiting for your words.

In Jesus Name,

Amen

 

 

Renouncing All for the One Who Is Worth It- No not you

I’ll admit it, I stole the title of today’s post from my Magnificat Reflection from Monsignor Giussani, a priest from Milan, Italy. Today’s stolen title and gospel reflection can be found here. It’s more than worth the read.

None of us are worth it really, though are attentions seem to sway us to think otherwise. We turn to our husbands and friends and co-workers to provide what they cannot, the unconditional, unselfish, unyielding love of Christ. I am sure that is why so many relationships fail, because we fail, yet expect others not to do the same. In fact, we expect them to exceed our expectations. We are so unfair and selfish in that way. If we are imperfect producers of love how can we expect any different from the flesh and blood around us?

Renouncing all for the One who is worth it is just that, He is the only one that is worth it. Yet our hearts pour out in so many other directions, bleeding on the ground and we still ask why. Why did he/she hurt us? Why is there pain in the world? Why did they break our hearts? Why do we ask why? Why instead do we not yield our hearts to the one who created the heart? To the lover of our souls? To the Only one who knows, and is worth it?

The light of love flooded my heart this morning thinking of the lover of my soul. And I couldn’t help but think how my heart danced away from him, watching him standing in the background. It isn’t that I want to stray, in fact quite the opposite, but love and acceptance seem so enticing when the road gets hard. Sometimes you just want to be held by something real. And Jesus is hard to hold, because in order to hold Him, you have to renounce everything else, even oneself.

And it’s hard to let go. It’s hard to follow a path that leads to the unknown. And my cross is heavy, over- bearing at times. And I don’t like it, and I don’t want it. Why can’t I carry an ice cream cone or a puppy or something? The burden of the wood burns my back, It is sweaty, hard, laborious. And sometimes the gentleness of Jesus gives way to the pain of Jesus. But the way of the cross is the same every time- a painful death, silence and a resurrection. Yet we so often will not choose that path, even it be an unconscious choice of avoidance. And that’s where I was. The road is narrow and I don’t like it. But after much pain and trial, I am back on the road, carrying my cross, coming after Him to a known death, again and again and again. I have calculated the cost yet still run. I reason I am not strong enough or brave enough. I reason I am broken. I say that I am not the one. And that’s the moment I leave Jesus in the corner while I dance with someone else. But when I come back, the pain is sweet, the burden is light and the heart is heavy. This is the great mystery of the crucifixion.

The meditation from today goes, “As time passes, Jesus makes his request more demanding.” Oh how true this is! And our love for Him is tested, day in and day out. Oh Lord why do you bring me such difficult people. “Because, ” He says, “They need to know that they are loved by me.” Oh my Lord, such a tall order.

But this is what I was made for, to love Him and know Him and serve Him. To pour that love out so others may experience Him in a real and tangible way. No matter their belief or who they are. Everyone wants and needs to be loved, and it’s really that simple. And the closer I am married to the sacred heart of Jesus is the closer I am to heaven. And I want to be close to heaven because my heart is buried there, and so is His. There is no other reason to live. Just Him. And that love, that great love that pours out when we are hopelessly wrapped up in Him is the same love I give to you, and you, and you. I give His love regardless of the love that’s given to me from you. Because it is not my job to make them love me, it is my job to make me love them, like He loves them. Don’t they know He’s right here? And there are so many tears. Oh Lord, how foolish I have been. Of course I am not qualified, but I am when you hold me. Because when you hold me, I can hold them. Because it is ok. Because through His wounds I am healed. And the wounds in my heart, those invisible wounds that Christ has too, can heal the one who is wounded. How can we not see those wounds? They are the walking dead in high positions, they are noble kings, they are paupers and they are prisoners. Is there any man that can escape the pain of life?

If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts. Marry your heart to Jesus and reflect the love that He has, no matter the cost.

Listen to: I shall Not Want

The Hate You Give

I don’t know anything about the movie, just its title. I’ve passed over it several times when debating over which movie would serve as a Friday night escape. But the title of the movie did something to me. It was bold and unapologetic. It was angry and accusatory. I felt convicted in some strange and unatoned for way. Could I be guilty of a sin I didn’t commit?

Today, I meditated on the story of Herod and John the Baptist and read an excellent meditation on it. And that meditation scared me as it spoke of “the power of anger in its most extreme form.” And I reflected on my passions, my hate and any resentment or anger that was “inspiring” my heart or motivation.

Sin creeps so steadily into your soul. Like a silencer. Like a slow dose of poison, unnoticed. The hate you give. In your words, your actions, your rants and apologetics. In the way you deal with people. In the selfish advice you give them. In the missing of moments, in the accusations against our Lord. In the chains we put Him in. In the blasphemies we speak against Him.

It is us. We are the crowd that shouts, “Crucify Him.”

The hate you give

I cried for my soul. For the hurt that I’ve held onto. I have forgiven so many. The perpetrators of my abuse, friends, acquaintances and so many more. There is nobody in my mind’s eye that I hadn’t forgiven. I scanned my mind at a rapid pace, but my heart was beating and swelling and filled with conviction.

The hate you give. (Holy Spirit whispers)

And the sin was there clear as day. I had forgiven but I had harbored. I had done what Jesus had asked me to do but I had resented. I had followed the Word but I had not absorbed the word into my soul. And my actions, my words, my motivations had fallen so short of what the Lord expects from me.

And He was crying from the crucifix, Forgive them all.

Look at me. My eyes, my body, covered in blood and sweat and the wounds of a million lashes. My soul dying from rejection. My heart crushed by those I called my own.

But His heart, His heart swelling with an unfathomable love. And not hate, not hate but an immense love. An impossible love for you and for me. Blood, tears, sweat, dirt, rejection, hate, the hate, and the love coming back from Him. Lord my rejection is killing me. My soul is slowly dying. I don’t want to hold onto it any longer.

Betrayal is cruel and deep. It burns the soul. The person I loved the most. The person that left me. The forgiveness that I gave. The rejection that I received. The bitterness and resentment and anger that followed. The grief that consumed my soul. The why God why. The meditation on Judas. The crying. The repairing of the heart. And all the while God is watching…Take it all my beloved daughter. Grieve it. I love her too. I love her, too.

And there it was, deep and wide. My sin on display. I didn’t want God to love her.

The hate you give

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 14:1-12

Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus
and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist.
He has been raised from the dead;
that is why mighty powers are at work in him.”

Now Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison
on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip,
for John had said to him,
“It is not lawful for you to have her.”
Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people,
for they regarded him as a prophet.
But at a birthday celebration for Herod,
the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests
and delighted Herod so much
that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for.
Prompted by her mother, she said,
“Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”
The king was distressed, 
but because of his oaths and the guests who were present,
he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison.
His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl,
who took it to her mother.
His disciples came and took away the corpse
and buried him; and they went and told Jesus.

Silence has a Sound

Silence is a work of art. It is a choice. It is a canvass. It is a miracle of life.

Even the brush strokes have noise. Bristles to paper. The splashing of water. The insistence of color. Red is loud and blue has the hues of ice. Yellow demands its way. Green is the rustling of leaves. There is still SOUND.

The art of writing is even noisy. The tap of keys on a keyboard, strikes, movement. The sound of air or breath. Long sighs and even pauses. There is still SOUND.

We run away to find silence. It is an attraction. The insides of monasteries. The center of the Eucharist. It is deception. But not deception of the thing in and of itself. No, on the contrary that is the truth. The monastery, the Eucharist all reflect the silence we seek. It is not the world that is noisy but the inside of our souls. It is why we fall to our knees before the Blessed Sacrament praying for air and can hear the slamming of a car door, the buzzing bee, the murmurs of conversation. Silence makes us more attuned to noise and God does not want us to absolve ourselves from it but rather to sit in it and with it. How could heaven in all its splendor not include sound? The sounds of angels and trumpets, of the voice of God and of the saints. No, rather God is saying to us, let your souls cry for silence! Let your souls demand it! Let the face of the Blessed Sacrament reflect back on your face the gift of INTERIOR silence, so that I may teach you to have peace amidst the commotion of your busy world, the hustle and bustle and in ALL circumstances. I want you to carry with you that silence. In the pain of your wounded marriage, in the unexpected death of your loved one, in your screaming children. I want it to envelop you in my Holy light, so that when your soul is suffering it finds its place, right in the center of my heart. In the center of my Holy and uninterrupted silence.

No my child, do not run away from noise but run towards it and bring my silence with you in the inside cavern of your soul. You who everyday walk my streets, feed my children and bare my scars to the world. Rejoice in the noise! It is then that I test you. It is only then that your spiritual practices can be put to the test.

And all this in the Blessed Sacrament. In the thirty minutes, In the noise from the outside. In running away. This from seeking solace from Him, answers from Him as to why I cannot get quiet. A loving rebuke, a joyful discipline.

The world does not conform to your needs. The universe and all that is in it is mine, He says. You conform to its needs.

For the ones that he has left behind in the world, not in cloistered convents, or monasteries or hopelessly tucked away. For those whose vocation is marriage or motherhood or some other form of non-religious life. It is then that He tests us. Can you find the comfort of the cloister in the silence of your heart? Can you put on the habit despite the noise? Can you place yourself in the center of my will when it is loud?

The circumstances of life are what they are- and they will keep coming, as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow. But will YOUR will finally give itself up to be fused into the Holy and Divine Will of God? And what if not for silence? Are we simply running INTO the burning sun rather than standing back to feel its rays? We cannot consume ourselves in Holiness without the acceptance of our own individual realities, our stages in this present life and each and every circumstance that presents itself.

When Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves, the storm in our souls should have calmed. That is his Holy and Divine Will. To accept that this act he performed presented us all the silence we need.

You may still hear the pull of the waves and the rocking of the boat. But your soul. Your soul will be still…

90 Seconds

How do you live one moment at a time? You cannot. This concept is wholly secular. Moments are increments of time that pass in movement from once frame to the next. They are snippets. They are still frames that can only be entered once the “moment” has passed. And, we move on to the next moment…

There is a lot of pressure to live “in” the moment. But moments are passing shadows. The movement of a shadow on a sundial covered 40 moments in a solar hour. On average, a moment corresponds to 90 seconds. And moments, (for all that they are not these days), were marked by a call to prayer at various intervals throughout the day. They were not a random “creation” of moments, they were an intentional calling on God, a movement towards Him. Even the earliest reference to the moment was defined by a Saint (St. Bede the Venerable).

When taken out of context, the moment becomes distorted, like other concepts extracted from out of their holy boxes. The world takes them and twists them to fit their own relativism, where one is in control of who and what they are. The God-man is lost in self-help books and do-it-yourselfers. And the moment? The moment fades away (how very cliche).

But if we return to mark our own moments, good and bad, can God change them? Can He use them? Or does the passage of 90 seconds define our whole lives? Each bead of the rosary marks a moment that I can change, a prayer, defining me. The now is the now I ask for Mary to pray for me, in this very moment, fifty times.

So the decades of the rosary are made up of moments, are marked by intentional prayer, are graces I give away after consecrating myself to our Holy Mother. And in those moments that have passed me without prayer, can I strive to make them holy by praying over them, especially the ones that stop me from enjoying life, the ones that rob me of my joy?

I say, contradict the world.

LET THE MOMENT PASS. DON’T HOLD ONTO IT. Jesus said as much to Mary Magdalene…

 

The Time that I can’t change

I am feeling overwhelmed by the time that I can’t change. As the clocks move forward, I struggle to catch up. The hours and minutes and seconds are in a sprint before me, and I am breathless and desperately chasing… time. In a haze of exhaustion and sorrow, the words in my bible seem to run off the page. Esther’s desperate plea for protection against her enemy, the psalmist’s cry for help. Sometimes I feel as if the words are there but I just can’t seem to catch up… in the same way time is escaping the grasp of my hands. God am I enough?

It is very obviously winter in my soul. Lent does that to me. When I have strained and poured myself into the divine colander, making the Master  tear apart my imperfections, and there are many. God is not cruel, but the truth sometimes is. And I wonder how I ever thought these words in my head, Am I my own Master?

The hiddenness of God is the beauty of God. As I travel, grope ground and dirt along my way, I am drowning. This is the part where I start to get hungry. This is eight days in the desert with no food from the world. It is just me and God.

And the more I sink, I fail, I get dirt on my face is the more I want Him; the more I realize that there is nothing good in this world. And the more the world reaches out to me with all its false temptations, sorrow and madness is the deeper I run into the Lenten desert he has created for me. It is not a retreat or defeat, it is a crown of thorns. It is not fighting back. It is a wanting for holiness. The world has nothing to offer me.

The Kingdom of God will grow upon earth, will be brought to fulfillment, in the same way it was established; by the daily and seemingly hidden lives of those who do always the will of the Father.

Servant of God Walter J. Ciszek, S.J.

Run to the wilderness with me!