Listen to the wilderness voices – Minister’s Reflection 10/12/23

This week I’m reflecting on wilderness voices. Not all the stories of Jesus in the bible tell us about his birth, and one starts with a voice crying out in the wilderness saying “prepare the way of God!”. The voice is that of John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, who we sometimes call the “foreteller” because he told people to get ready for Jesus. Really, he is the voice of Advent, because that is what Advent is all about.  So I have been pondering on him this week. One who lives in the wild and is a voice that cries out in the wild places. A voice that we need to hear.

Wilderness voices are important, but they are often quite difficult to hear. They say things we might struggle with, and they challenge those of us who are not in the wilderness to be aware of the ones who are. John the Baptist irritated people. He irritated them so much that he ends up getting his head chopped off. He shouts out and people want him to shut up. I image that some people may have thought that there must be a better way of getting your point across than shouting out in the wilderness. I suspect that some who even agreed with what he said probably thought there could be a better way of saying it. Such is the way of wilderness voices.

And we hear them now, in our time and place. And they can make for uncomfortable listening. We try to ignore them, but they do not always go away. They are the voices of the displaced and the war torn. They are the voices of the ones who will not let us forget that the climate crisis is costing some on our planet dearly. They are young and old. They say things like “just stop oil” and we want them to stop. The wilderness voices are rarely easy to hear. We hear them – we must.

The wilderness voices will speak to us as individuals and as community. They might not speak to us directly, but they do speak and ask us to notice them when we are making plans about how we live, how we spend our money and how we accumulate stuff. Sometimes they will be very quiet and even silent, and we need to listen carefully and find ways of helping them to speak to us. And listen, of course, always means we need to be. We have 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason.

As well as wilderness voices that we find hard to listen to and ones we would rather ignore there are also the ones we can too easily assume we know what they are going to say and so don’t bother listening. But listen we must, for wilderness voices being words from God.

This week the poet and social justice advocate Benjamin Zephaniah died and he is pictured here. He has so often been a wilderness voice, and I share here is one of his poems:

We Refugees.

I come from a musical place

Where they shoot me for my song

And my brother has been tortured

By my brother in my land.

I come from a beautiful place

Where they hate my shade of skin

They don’t like the way I pray

And they ban free poetry.

I come from a beautiful place

Where girls cannot go to school

There you are told what to believe

And even young boys must grow beards.

I come from a great old forest

I think it is now a field

And the people I once knew

Are not there now.

We can all be refugees

Nobody is safe,

All it takes is a mad leader

Or no rain to bring forth food,

We can all be refugees

We can all be told to go,

We can be hated by someone

For being someone.

I come from a beautiful place

Where the valley floods each year

And each year the hurricane tells us

That we must keep moving on.

I come from an ancient place

All my family were born there

And I would like to go there

But I really want to live.

I come from a sunny, sandy place

Where tourists go to darken skin

And dealers like to sell guns there

I just can’t tell you what’s the price.

I am told I have no country now

I am told I am a lie

I am told that modern history books

May forget my name.

We can all be refugees

Sometimes it only takes a day,

Sometimes it only takes a handshake

Or a paper that is signed.

We all came from refugees

Nobody simply just appeared,

Nobody’s here without a struggle,

And why should we live in fear

Of the weather or the troubles?

We all came here from somewhere.

If you want to talk about anything, please do send a private message and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. Every blessing, Rev Anne.

Scroll to Top