We have been living in our new digs for nearly two weeks now, and things are extremely dry and dusty ’round here. Wood floors have been sanded, drywall has been mudded, and kitchen cabinets and counters are shifting. I am mostly the chief clean up officer, and I try not to view too much news as I sweep. But it has been difficult to avoid the heartache in Ukraine. How are we to live peacefully, contentedly while others suffer? I have no answers, only prayers and a spirit of unknowing which I offer with a whole heart.
Valley Times, Desert Beauty & A Prayer
A year ago, I snapped these photos of desert loveliness (mountains, valleys, buttes, canyons, and nature’s cathedral under impossibly blue skies) with the hope that they would bring your hearts into quietude.
I was weak physically and deeply reliant on the prayers of others.
One of the gifts of my own chronic illness is how it forces me into restful pauses. I have always been a high achiever who is prone to prize productivity and overworking.
It takes a lot to slow me down, and when the pace slows, a whole new beautiful world often emerges.
Right where I am, I am experiencing a flare of my autoimmune disorder which remains somewhat of a mystery. Is it progressive Crohn’s disease? Yet to be diagnosed Lupus? Covid long term damage? I only know I grow tired easily, have trouble walking some days because of pain in my hip and feet, and struggle with allergies and of course GI issues.
Some symptoms are better – less foot dystonia episodes and throat spasms, for example. I have been working hard to identify triggers and manage the stresses which exacerbate the issues.
I do not recommend moving (even a local move is ridiculously stressful!) and taking on any home renovation when you’re pushing 60 and still working full time! My husband and I are still not sure why we both felt led to start a new project. We only know that we were called to yield.
Yield? To what? For how long? At what cost?
Maybe you have also answered such a call out of your comfort zone, away from the familiar, toward challenges that stretch you.
The virus surely has changed the course for many, and earth’s shutdowns during the pandemic ushered in this sense of yielding to a powerfully invisible force.
The thing about invitations to yield is you are entirely free to choose whether to say yes!
Nature teaches us this at every turn. I have read about a particular species of scorpion that stays on the surface and takes a vicious beating when sand-storms arise. Everything else goes underground to shelter.
What allows this strange creature to yield and withstand all of the abuse?
It would seem this scorpion has adapted and over time, evolved with the proper armor.
But is that the whole story? Does she stay above the sand only because she is well-equipped with strong defense mechanisms?
I find the desert especially intriguing and instructive as I consider what it means to flow in surroundings so far from lifegiving oceans and breezy shores.
How often do I soothe myself with thoughts about a not too far off future filled with more comforts, more heaven, more joy, and more satisfaction?
And how often do I resist in present daily circumstances the discomfort which is meant to prosper and evolve me into something more lovely and resilient?
Oh the tattered trust of which Barbara Brown Taylor calls to mind!
Is there anything more beautiful this very moment than a young child fleeing Ukraine with only a pocket of hard stones from the yard and a soft, yielding heart of tattered trust in impossible glory, in hope everlasting?
I’m thinking of you this very moment as you search your heart for a sense of wholeness and certainty in the midst of strife. As you begin to fearfully wonder if there is hope for mankind after all.
Images of the desert and rocky terrain also have me thinking about how Easter is coming and about Luke 19:40.
It is an account where Jesus says even if the crowds are silent, the very stones will cry out.
He must remind the religious leaders who are complaining about the fickle nature of his fans that there is a deeper truth at work which transcends their behavior and the culture’s missteps.
What stones and ultimate truth are we perhaps overlooking when we point fingers at each other?
My time in the desert is always so very fruitful.
The landscape stills me in a way that never grows dull.
In the desert, it is far easier to listen. Everything is older there. The mountains teach.
But while I am planted on the prairie, far from the whispers of stones (they whisper “the good news is even better than you dreamed!”), I can nurture an inner landscape of desert beauty.
What blessing awaits when we humble ourselves enough to pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.”
What peace arrives when we refuse to harden and instead let our hearts break into something new and beautiful.
What an encouragement to know that thriving in drought conditions is possible.
Whatever landscape calls to you, may it bring fresh wisdom and vision to your weary soul.
No matter how busy or not busy or lonely or not lonely you are, may you consider listening to the still small voice of Love inside.
As we drove this scenic byway en route to Sedona last year, the sacredness of snow on mountains, evergreen forests, and red rocks invited us to breathe in prayerful quietude.
I hope that quietude is somehow captured here and having its way with you.
A Desert Prayer
HOLY, ever-present, Giver of Mercy, draw near your child and see every secret hurt and shadow in need of light.
Thank you for your endless patience as we grow.
I see the majesty of your mountains, your richly red rock and ancient evergreen forests and am reminded how beauty and transformation take time.
Thank you for joining me in pink sunsets and golden hours where: my soul is quieted, my small self can fall away, and Divine love swells in my chest. Oh praise the earth’s landscape – praise the blessed beauty that is YOU, welcoming me in my poverty to come and feast.
Praise the thirsty land. Praise patches of scorched ground where seeds lie without life. Praise the poor desert of our hearts, longing for Living Water to restore, revitalize, and re-make them. Bless the children, the refugee, the wounded, and the aged in the valley.
Bless all those longing to return to Your Garden.
Oh, Father, lead all weary souls back to the glory of Eden which is you.
Thank you for every darkness recycled into dawn.
Forgive us for moments of selfish pride when disillusioned by scarcity, abandonment, or threat, we choose the bitter over sweet.
Grant us eyes to see your ever-flowing abundance so we may be fruitful with kindness and mercy.
Help us let go of all which is impure. May we see our wealth in what is true and noble.
Keeper of my soul, beam your divine radiance into the corners of my secret rooms. Those rooms grow dark, and the darkness too belongs. Help me to live in such shadows, to move through them with courage by the grace of your Word and wisdom.
Help me to ever yield. To your mystery, to your lovely ways.
Mansion Builder and Holy Maker of all that is, bless our planet, bless our families, and heal our wounds.
Lord Jesus. Touch your people and transform consciousness. May new minds rise and bloom to fragrant the atmosphere.
I pray all of this in a humble state of unknowing and from an inner landscape of desert beauty. My hands are open, Lord, and right where I am, I am ready to receive.
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Peace to you right where you are.
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