To be commanded to love God at all, let alone in the wilderness, is like being commanded to be well when we are sick, to sing for joy when we are dying of thirst, to run when our legs are broken. But this is the first and great commandment nonetheless. Even in the wilderness - especially in the wilderness - you shall love Him.
- Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember
What we know now - and what in later times they knew better than we - is that the Wilderness is where the first and great commandment is found. Saint Peter ended his days in the Rome of Nero, on the cross. It was an agonizing end - an end the Romans fully intended to be agonizing - and the first of many persecutions that christians would suffer in that empire. But Peter knew - he had seen - what is found in the Wilderness. It is the Faith that conquers the world.
The love for equals is a human thing--of friend for friend, brother for brother. It is to love what is loving and lovely. The world smiles. The love for the less fortunate is a beautiful thing--the love for those who suffer, for those who are poor, the sick, the failures, the unlovely. This is compassion, and it touches the heart of the world. The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing--to love those who succeed where we fail, to rejoice without envy with those who rejoice, the love of the poor for the rich, of the black man for the white man. The world is always bewildered by its saints. And then there is the love for the enemy--love for the one who does not love you but mocks, threatens, and inflicts pain. The tortured's love for the torturer. This is God's love. It conquers the world.
- Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat