Hope in the Desert

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." But he answered, "It is written, 'Humans shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'"

(Matthew 4:1-4)

My flight began its long descent into Las Vegas. It was midnight local time -- 3 o'clock in the morning on my body's time -- and waves of exhaustion and emptiness swept over me as the plane shuddered toward the ground. From the air, the lights of the Las Vegas strip came into view -- lights upon lights that glared and blinked and flowed around skyscraping casinos, monuments to greed and the American desperation to beat the odds and strike it rich.

I leaned back from the window, and the view changed. Suddenly the lights of Las Vegas were transformed into a kaleidoscope of rainbows. Some imperfection or distortion in the glass, I surmised, had split each glaring light into a wondrous spectrum of color. The myriad of rainbows intersected and danced across the glass, and I was reminded that I had come with different eyes and a different hope.

I carried with me a clear image -- an image from the days before the war, which seemed so far away now in early March. It came in fact from January 14, just 48 hours before everything changed. It was from an evening steeped with hope, when 8,500 of us streamed down Massachusetts Avenue from the Washington National Cathedral to the White House with candles to pray and plead for peace.

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