A desert can seem like a dry and desolate place. I know. I live in the desert Southwest. Friends and family members from a much greener east coast often say to me, ďBut there is nothing here! Your desert feels dry and empty!Ē That is only because they do not know its secrets. Those of us who live here know its BEAUTY, recognize its INNER RESOURCES, delight in its SURPRISES, and count on its PROMISE.
We know its BEAUTY. There is nothing that can match a desert sunset, and there are few obstacles on a desert horizon to obscure that beauty.
We know its hardiness and recognize its INNER RESOURCES. Anything that grows and survives here harbors, deep within itself, resources that sustain it through long periods of drought and heat.
We know its SURPRISES. After a good spring rain, the desert can suddenly delight us with an array of brilliant wildflowers that seems to appear out of nowhere, and with the songs of frogs long hidden from sight.
Finally, we know the desertís PROMISE. We trust that the heat of a summer day will, after dark, melt into a cooler starry night. We know that the monsoon rains will arrive, even if belatedly, to bring refreshment to the desert, and relief to those of us who dwell here.
There is a time in all of our lives, no matter where we live, that can feel very much like a desert. It is the time following the death of a loved one, family or friend. Spaces that used to be full now feel empty. A sense of companionship, company and community is replaced by a sense of loneliness and aloneness. We miss the refreshing rains of living, working, loving and praying side by side with a beloved person. We may feel we are dwelling in a deserted place that offers no comfort.
So let us remember. Remember the gifts of the desert: BEAUTY, INNER RESOURCES, SURPRISES, and PROMISE.
BEAUTY can be found in memories. We must share the memories. Tell the stories. Especially the ones that make us laugh or cry, for both our laughter and our tears are part of the beauty of this desert.
Draw strength from deep HIDDEN RESOURCES: Godís presence in prayer; the love of friends, family and community. Remember also that each of us can be a quiet hidden resource for others in the desert, perhaps by simply sharing a cup of coffee or spending time listening.
Welcome the SURPRISES of the desert: the kind word spoken out of the blue by a total stranger that makes your heart sing; the sudden tears that well up as you hear a song on the radio. Also, do not hesitate to create a surprise, or be a surprise, for someone you know who is traveling the desert way.
Finally, the PROMISE of this desert. Ignore the platitudes. Look to the promises that matter. The promises we know through our spiritual faith and practice. The promise of the love and friendship of those around us. And most importantly, the Lordís promises of comfort and love that we hear throughout the Scriptures.
Yes, the Lord shall comfort Zion
and have pity on all her ruins;
Her deserts he shall make like Eden,
her wasteland like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness shall be found in her,
thanksgiving, and the sound of song.
(Isaiah 51:3 NAB, New American Bible)
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