For You Alone

by Rachel Srubas


Here, near Lent’s empty center,

the loneliness goes to your bones.

Even Jesus in the desert

must have wondered why

he’d abandoned his life

to live on nothing but visions

and ominous animal visitations.

It all began with such promise—the thrill

of turning thirty,

when reality pivoted for him

and gained a clarity so forceful

it didn’t matter who thought he was crazy.

He dropped to his knees in a rush of earthen water,

and a wild man doused his head.

The severed sky, a dove diving,

a voice immense with love overtook him,

and wind decisive as a hand

drove him up the slick riverbank,

past repentant, dripping believers,

out beyond the village’s edges,

straight into the bloodless, unpeopled heart

of the wilderness,

like no heart at all.

Loneliness is a gentle word for this

solitude Jesus endured,

for which you, in strange, singular courage

now search.

The temptation to flee

before a fiercer word than loneliness emerges, a silence

deeper than prayer descends,

gnaws and taunts you from within, like hunger,

here, where breezes go nearly unheard

because there’s no one for them to disturb

but you,

who have relinquished all you thought

you couldn’t live without,

for what? To search

for all you really need.


Rachel Srubas is the author of Oblation: Meditations on St. Benedict’s Rule and City of Prayer: 40 Days with Desert Christians. She lives in Tucson, Arizona, where she serves as the pastor of Mountain Shadows Presbyterian Church.