Playing Wilderness Bingo

May 8, 2020 by Caryn Rivadeneira

I’m a big fan of wilderness experiences — at least, of the spiritual variety. As I’ve written before, I’ve been known to get excited when people tell me they’re wandering — or even experiencing a Dark Night of the Soul — wondering why God feels so distant. Of course, it’s not that I enjoy suffering or hearing about other people’s suffering. But I do enjoy sensing that God is close at hand. And I believe if we are willing to do a bit of work, being in the wilderness — wandering and wondering where God is — primes us to experience God’s presence and God’s goodness.

If we’re willing to do a bit of work during these times, our very desperation for God allows us to open our minds, our hearts, our souls, and our senses to notice God with us in ways we might not in the good times. At least, that’s how it’s played out in my life.

After spending plenty of time in various wildernesses myself, I’ve trained myself to keep my eyes “peeled” to notice God. But beyond that, I’ve also taken David’s words to “taste and see that the Lord is good” in Psalm 34:8 quite seriously — and expanded it. We can taste, see, hear, feel, smell, and KNOW that God is good and with us.

The best part of this is that we can practice and experience this anywhere, any time. Even while being locked down in a pandemic. Even in much worse situations than that!

While some folks accuse those of us who like to sense God in the minutiae as “over-spiritualizing,” I cry foul. God’s goodness and presence can be sensed in the wafts of fresh-baked bread and in the thwack of a baseball — if we’re primed to notice, receive, and credit it as such. This practice has paid dividends beyond measure in my own life. It’s allowed me to stay attuned to God in the best of times (when, let’s face it, we tend to forget God), in the worst, and in the everyday middle of life.

To help us practice noticing God, Rachel Klooster and I designed a “Wilderness Bingo” game for kids and adults alike. As you go through your day, we encourage you to try to notice a row of sensory items in the game and X them off. Then think about how each of those things — even the weird ones — can help you know God’s goodness and remind you that God is with you.

We’d love to see your “winning” Bingo cards when you’re done and hear how some of the boxes helped you notice God’s goodness and presence!

Peace—
Caryn Rivadeneira,
Director of Care and Worship Planning

WILDERNESS BINGO CARD (print)

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