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INFORMATION about ABM’s Lent Resources for 2016


2016 Lent image


1. How to use the Lent Resources

Into the Desert: Lent 2016 has been designed to take you on a 40 day journey starting on Ash Wednesday (February 10) 2016 and concluding on Palm Sunday (March 20) 2016.  

The daily scripture reading is taken from An Australian Lectionary 2016 using the NRSV version of the bible.

The scripture reading is expanded on in three sections; REFLECT, SAYINGS and PRAY.

The content is designed to work as a whole and you may well want to move back and forth between the various sections for each day.

SAYINGS is named for the sayings of the desert mother and fathers.   It has a particular focus on writers who have spent time in literal or spiritual deserts.

Throughout the resources there are also hyperlinks that take you to outside content which requires an internet connection.

Into the Desert: Lent 2016 is also available as a free App. For further information go to



2.  Why the Australian desert? 

I am antipodean enough to wonder, now and then, whether architecture is, in the end, what you console yourself with once wild landscape has been subsumed. 

Tim Winton[1]


Australians haven’t always valued their deserts.

The early explorers saw them as hot, dry and depressing spaces they struggled to cross.

School children were given maps showing the centre of Australia as a blank space to be slowly filled in by Western culture.

It was common to speak about the dead heart of Australia.

If it didn’t immediately seem useful or appealing it had no point.   

The term terra nullius was used in all seriousness for if people weren’t connected with the land like the English were, well they weren’t connected to it at all.

Of course this was all deeply wrong.  


The land and the sea not empty sheds that man has built.  There’s something in it. 

Matthew Dhulumburrk of Milingimbi[2]


A society that has gained much from busyness and productivity still struggles with apparent space.

Some years back, I found myself in the desert of a painful illness. 

Blaise Pascal claimed that the sole cause of a person’s unhappiness was that they didn’t know how to stay quietly in their room.

I didn’t. 

A lot of people had a lot of suggestions for how to fix myself so I could return to my old busy ways.

I tried them all for as long as I could.

Eventually, exhausted, I found I was turning to those who had also spent time in barren places.

They talked about the gifts of the desert rather than how to avoid it. 

It was puzzling but relaxing. 

I spent a lot of time in a Christian community in Alice Springs, on the edge of the actual desert, where people quoted things like:


Come! Rest and wait in the wilderness
Listen and See with your heart 

Trisha Watts


I hated resting.  And waiting.  And the heart stuff seemed airy-fairy.

But God acting through their hospitality, and the desert itself, saved me.

I discovered that the ancient desert fathers and mothers spent a lot of time in their cells.  

They chose to do it. 

I found, to my surprise, I was being led from the head to the heart. 

It turned out to be an ancient truth rather than a self-indulgent poetic flourish. 

I couldn’t control the desert, the illness or, as it turned out, God.


We are saved in the end by the things that ignore us.

Andrew Harvey[3]


I had thought that reality was controlled by me from the inside of my mind.

That was painfully shattered when I was taken beyond the limits of what I could control.

But it turned out God hadn’t been ignoring me at all.  

For there is no space that God opens up in our lives that God doesn’t fill.

This Lent the challenge is to leave the busy surfaces of our lives and to enter the desert at our heart in the wild hope that a way may be prepared for us to see God.


Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, “Abba as far as I can I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?”  Then the old man stood up and stretched his hands towards heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, “If you will, you can become all flame.” 

A saying of the desert fathers and mothers



[1] The Island seen and felt: Some thoughts about landscape

[2] Deborah Bird Rose, Nourishing Terrains

[3] Belden Lane, Solace of Fierce Landscapes


3.  Additional Resources 


Tim Winton 

The Island seen and felt: Some thoughts about landscape

A talk at the Royal Academy of London


A D Hope




John Chryssavagis, In the Heart of the Desert

Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Poustinia

John Harris, One Blood

Belden C Lane, The Solace of Fierce Landscapes

Michael Leunig, The Lot

Thomas Merton, The Wisdom of the Desert

Christine Valters Paintner, Desert Fathers and Mothers

Rowan Williams, Silence and Honey Cakes

Tim Winton, Island Home


Desert Retreats

Campfire in the Heart

Koora Retreat Centre

Spirit Journeys Australia


4.  Who are we?

The Anglican Board of Mission, Australia (ABM) has been involved in creating Lent resources for a number of years.

Into the desert: Lent 2016 was written by Celia Kemp.  She is an Education Officer with ABM, focussing on advocacy, and has lived in Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Darwin, Perth and Alice Springs.  Her previous work in criminal and coronial law took her to remote communities across the Northern Territory and Western Australia.  She is currently studying (very part-time) at Trinity Theological School. 

ABM is the national mission agency of the Anglican Church of Australia working with overseas and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.

We have a holistic view of God’s mission. We work with Anglican Church partners and others to see lives empowered and transformed spiritually, materially and socially.

We help the Anglican Church and the wider community realise and respond to the invitation for all to be a part of God’s hope for the world.

ABM believes in a world where all people enjoy God’s promise of love, hope and justice. We work to see this belief become a reality.

For more information about ABM visit:

ABM thanks Caritas Australia, Alined Design, Robin Mann (who generously gave us the use of his song for free), Jacob and Elyse Tierney and the many wonderful writers and artists quoted throughout this resource.