Today the desert lives up to its namesakes—dry and deserted. Summer sun is evaporating what little moisture remains in the soil and plants are withering into dust. A few hardy asters peek out from their low growing foliage, but they will be gone in a day or two. Every plant sends seeds into the wind to propagate another generation when scant rains return. And there is no other human to be seen.
The elements of this place dance in harmony, even though they seem to express it harshly. All colors blend into a kind of crispy sage gray/green to brown. I have to slow down and be more observant if I want to extract the subtle beauty hidden here. Actually, I do not extract anything. It is the other way around. Nature evokes a curiosity to explore, vacuuming away layers of my so-called civilized self.
Even with all the apparent desolation and isolation, this is my church of choice. It is where I feel most at home—not because it is comfortable, but because it calls me to remember I am not immune to universal laws. And, although I play an integral part in the grand scheme, it is a rather small role that disappears into endless natural cycles.
Desert reminds me of my mortality. The arid expanse seems forever poised at the boundary of existence and non-existence, where a single drop of water can make all the difference. Life and death abide in close proximity. I cannot cling to the illusion of permanence when a hot wind draws all the moisture from my breath.
Yet, there is a kind of peace in knowing the fragility of life. I am cracked open—like all the parched cracks in the sandy soil—and the desert blooms inside me. I feel her kindness. She understands those times I feel dry and deserted, abandoned and alone. She teaches me resilience in the face of harshness, compassion in the face of anger. She instills an awareness of joy in the smallest seed floating in an unseen wind, and reveals beauty when it lands and sprouts. But, mostly, she reminds me that emptiness can be quite full if embraced with open arms.