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Presbyterian pastor Rachel M. Srubas based the theme and title of her book on the words of Thomas Merton, Trappist monk and Catholic priest: “What is my new desert? ... The name of it is compassion. There is no wilderness so terrible, so beautiful, so arid, and so fruitful as the wilderness of compassion. It is the only desert that will flourish like the lily.”  

With “the compass of compassion in hand,” Srubas invites readers on a journey through the Lenten desert. Each of her weekday readings includes a Scripture passage based on the day’s compassion-focused theme, an italicized message in which she envisions what God might say to the reader in that day’s context, encouragement to take time to meditate, a reflection that “explores a feature of Lent’s inner and outer landscapes,” and a concluding prayer. For each Sunday throughout Lent, Srubas includes a “Sabbath Rest Stop” in which she introduces the next week’s compassion-based theme and encourages readers to worship God with other Christians. The Desert of Compassion ends by reflecting on the events of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday—“three sacred days signifying God’s encompassing compassion for all creation, made real in Jesus’ death and resurrection.”  

Historical and personal anecdotes enliven Srubas’s accessible and relevant devotions, and her theme of compassion gives readers the opportunity to possibly approach Lent from a fresh perspective. (Westminster John Knox Press)


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