Many people confuse the wilderness with a desert. This isn't really that true. While the wilderness is by definition a challenging place to live, it does not challenge one's actual survival.
We go into the wilderness to think, reflect, listen, or simply realise who we are as opposed to who we think we are. It is not exactly clear how this can be accomplished if we spending the energy fighting for our lives. We know that shepherds took their flocks a way into the wilderness for them to graze. We also know that they would have to be on the lookout for the beasts like lions, which is why shepherds had to be sober and vigilant.
However, in this challenging landscape there are many places where the vegetation is lush and green, where the water runs as clear as crystal, and where the native animals live their simple little lives unencumbered by the shackles of reason, law, order, and politics. Here in the wilderness we can truly meet God being who we are, as we were created. Here is an opportunity to sit down and allow ourselves to be known by God.
As we enter the season of Lent, we embrace the challenges of asceticism in which we seek not to make ourselves uncomfortable as if to atone for the lives that God has given us, but rather to step back from ourselves as we believe ourselves to be. We allow ourselves to see beauty in the simple things in the artificial aridity of a life forgetful of God. Like the Pharisees, we can do all the right things but in forgetting the presence of God, our efforts are vain because we forget the presence of Love.
We do not fast in order to make ourselves miserable - carrying the Cross will do that for us. We do not give things up for the challenge - the testing of our faith by Sin, the World, and the Devil will do that. We do these things to strip away the encumbrances of worldly living to find freedom to be what God created, to explore God and how He has both created and redeemed us, and to do so in the presence of that loving Creator and Redeemer!
I wish you all a blessed, happy, and fulfilling Lent!