My apologies to the hungry dogs licking their chops for the next controversial theological morsel I might toss their way. I have rediscovered my first love, both personally and professionally. My first love is expressed in the so-called Great Commandment [Luke 10:27], to love God and neighbor. It is simple and profound. My professional first love is to teach this to students. This is the motto verse of our first year spiritual formation course that I’ve been working on of late. Sometimes theology with all its semantics and controversies leads us away from our first love.

I’m going to Saskatchewan this weekend. I have not had a speaking engagement there in quite a few years. It brings me back more than 15 years when we lived in Swift Current. Those years were of the most difficult in my life so far and yet looking back, they were also years of intense spiritual formation. We tend to think of lush trees and lakes as beautiful, but the saints of old in the Bible and church history often withdrew to deserts for times of prayer and spiritual formation.

The dry hills and plains around Saskatchewan Landing constitute one of the most hauntingly beautiful places on earth as far as my soul is concerned. It was a place where I was in pain but also where I learned to trust God.

Saskatchewan,

a naked barren land

and domineering sky –

heat, dust, wind, smoke sweeping

over ridged and rugged yellow greyish skin

stretching on endlessly.

Is there anywhere to go here?

Is there any destination?

It’s all so open-ended,

seeing forever

yet seeing nothing.

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