The Desert

On a recent trip I drove through desert in Nevada and southern California, including the Mojave Desert.  An unfamiliar landscape, it appeared dry and barren, especially compared to the lush green of an eastern spring in which there has been plenty of rain.  Disconcerting and maybe even dull at first, this vast space of flat land surrounded by high and rugged mountains, with undulating sands in some areas and big boulders in others, gradually revealed its beauty. Each cactus, shrub, or patch of grass had its own place and was easily appreciated one bit at a time—a stark contrast with North Carolina weeds, grass, flowers, shrubs, and trees all in the same area.

After the time in the desert it occurs to me that my life at home is more like the eastern landscape in which I live, with an abundance of activities, relationships, responsibilities, and riches. So many that I can easily go from one thing to the next to the next, with no space in between.  What would life look like with the spaciousness of the desert?

While there I did one thing at a time.  I was truly present in the moment.  I wasn’t overwhelmed with stimuli.  I had time to absorb each new thing.  At the same time there is in the desert the vastness, openness, and vulnerability that one experiences—with no close boundaries and no place to hide.  And the uncertainty about where, if anywhere, there might be life-giving water, and with nothing but sun and stars to give one direction.

These experiences seem like invitations—to value and not fear emptiness, to take time to absorb the gifts of the day, to find opportunities to let go the busyness and jumble of ordinary life, to find spaciousness.  And with the invitations come the challenges of vulnerability, uncertainty about where to find the basics of life, and the need for a guide.


What kind of external, physical landscape speaks most to your soul?  What does that tell you?

What invitations are you hearing?  Are you in touch with your Guide?


Practice a prayer of letting go, being with God in spaciousness.  You may want to use a mantra (a phrase, perhaps from scripture) to repeat, or you may use a sacred word symbolizing your intent to be open to the divine. When you notice yourself thinking, simply let go and return to repeating that word.

For further reflection:

“I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert”. . . (Isaiah 43:19).

“Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty’” (see John 4: 1-42).


3 thoughts on “The Desert

  1. Hi Aunt Patty, Your blog has perfect timing, once again! I’m off with students to the Arizona Mexico borderlands/desert, thinking about desert spirituality, immigrants and refugees, sanctuary movement, and the Tohono O’odham tribe. I’ll share your blog!

    Alexander Levering Kern Executive Director Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service Northeastern University 203 Ell Hall, 360 Huntington Avenue Boston, Massachusetts 02115 617.373.4931

    Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone


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