The date alone makes the day unusual. You get today 24 times in a century. But it was peculiar in another way as well. It was a big sky day.In Chicago you do not get days with big skies often unless you go out onto the lake in summer and loose the horizon. Here it is always difficult to be lost, at least geographically. Drop a Chicagoan anywhere in the city and they can point their way to the lake and from that discern direction. Add to this the right angle streets and the ever present skyline and the excitement or fear of being lost or without bearing is a rarity. Places with big skies are different. Head into the Outback or the Great Plains, you may see on a map precisely where you are at and yet feel lost.
It is Lent. We are to be reminded that in reality we are often lost. It is a rare enough feeling in Chicago, but with a wide open azure blue sky and a temperature that brings one to the temptation to wander you could be reminded of that today. Today you could know what it is to be lost. It is an appropriate feeling for the Lenten season.
Scripture says Jesus went into the wilderness. Those of us who live in areas with towns and deciduous forest are easily deceived by that word. The wilderness of Jesus was big sky country. It was the place of desert and mountain, void of food and filled with danger. It was not a place for the faint. The literalness may be debated. (Where is there a mountain high enough to see all the kingdoms of the world?) This misses the point, though. The landscape here is a spiritual one before it is anything else. Geography and circumstance though can be helpful in making a point and today the point could be made in a place with apartment blocks and freeways as easily as it is could be in places with unwatered sand giving away to great heights.
Pictured above is a highway in the Australian Outback by Georgie Sharp