I don’t think it’s an accident that the three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam were conceived in the desert. People take pilgrimages there so that they can feel closer to God. Even the Mormons when traveling through the Mohave desert were inspired and reminded of the biblical story of Joshua. They saw the yucca with it’s branches outstretched looking as if it was reaching it’s arms to God, hence naming it the Joshua tree. There is something so sacred and serene about being there.
When spending a short amount of time visiting you will understand how miraculous it is. The barren desert has very little water and such extreme weather conditions, one would think that nothing would ever grow there. But it is so alive with life. After a small amount of rain the most magnificent and colorful flowers bloom. It tells us that with a little nurturing anything can thrive and flourish anywhere, no matter how harsh the environment.
The desert is rugged but has so much vulnerability. The saguaros, prickly pears and the other cacti are covered with thorns, if you cut through their thick skin they are soft and filled with water. Animals can survive off of their nectar and build homes within them. This shows us that no matter how rough life can be, we can still find shelter. Even things that seem hard and thorny on the outside can be tender and delicate inside, so you need to look beyond the surface.
The desert with its vast openness is where I fell in love with sunrises and sunsets. Viewing them was like watching God paint the sky in hues of orange, gold, purple and red. The colors were so vivid. I never got tired of looking at them. Everyday when admiring a sunset I was reminded of how spectacular life is. There are lessons and blessings in everything and the most beautiful things in life cannot be bought.
The countless stars and moon brightly lit up the sky and reflected on the saguaros. In the desert the night sky has such depth, you can see how infinite it is. This allowed me to understand that we are not alone in the universe and I was able to perceive the limitless possibilities in my life and beyond.
Hiking in the desert was often challenging but peaceful. The dusty trail would lead me to unknown destinations. Along the way I would hear the melodic noise of snake tails rattling and mourning doves singing. The sounds I heard connected me to nature. I sometime would come across remnants of an old decaying structure or Native American petroglyphs. This made me realize when taking a path even though it may be laborious, you never know what surprises you will encounter along the way. When setting out for your destination don’t forget to enjoy every part of the journey. That is where you discover so many marvelous rewards.
The monsoons there were intense and could be destructive. The sky would open and the water would gush out as the wind forcefully blew it around. Afterwards the desert would have fierce streams running through it’s usually dry “washes” and it was finally nourished. The monsoons were fascinating to watch and experiencing them brought to mind the saying, “when it rains it pours”. After the downpour is over the flooding rains bring such amazing gifts. Just like after we face the storms in our own life.
The desert fed my soul and living there for 12 years I underwent many changes and challenges. I also had so many blessings in my life there as well. There are certain locales that we encounter that will always be in our heart. The Sonoran desert is a area that I’m not originally from but I will always belong to. Whether you believe in spirituality or not, the desert is a place where you can admire beauty, uncover wisdom and possibly rediscover yourself.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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Photo credit: Victoria A. Gregg (Author)
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