Dear Sor Juana,
Examination of conscience is quite a challenge and the temptations of the desert – an unholy trinity – are all around.
It is no surprise to me that the desert is the place where temptations seem bigger, bolder, brighter. In a landscape suffering from little precipitation and often wasting from erosion it is the prefect place to be tempted. I discover I am in a desert, often by accident, when temptations find their way to me l beautifully packaged. Writing to you is a constant reminder of your practice of examen – I live a more undisciplined life!
I am singularly impressed with the power of darkness to creep in disguised as light. The wrestle is real and in its own way even enjoyable. Discernment is a chance for ego gymnastics. So between the swings, roundabouts, high wire acts and juggling balls I eventually come to a resting place in my thoughts until the discomfort nudges me into deeper reflection.
Like you I turned to poetry to work through my thoughts and here is the outcome. Eliot‘s Murder in the Cathedral never far from my thoughts when faced with the fourth temptation.
Desert: home to temptation
Place of denudation.
Where stones promise to be bread
Body tempted yet soul not fed.
Where temple tower’s angelic safety net
Invites free fall, with no fear to vet.
Where the world is at your feet
And global citizens are there to greet.
Cloudless nights, wasted horizon.
Wrestling, can I avert
Eliot’s words in my desert?
The last temptation is the greatest treason
To do the right deed for the wrong reason.