The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Lessons from the Dry Land
We moved from Bozeman, MT to Holbrook, AZ almost five years ago. I confess I still miss the snowstorms, the months of cold weather, and the luscious flowers in the spring and summer. Maybe the native Montanans call it God’s country because they, like I, always feel a little closer to God in the wide-open spaces and majestic views.
In Bozeman, Pedro and I could load up our bikes and within twenty minutes find our favorite trailhead. After huffing and puffing up the mountainside, we would arrive at fields of wildflowers framed by snow-capped mountains on either side.
Ninety minutes in the car brought us to the gates of Yellowstone National Park. This time of year baby bison linger in the roads on cool mornings and grizzlies scratch their backs on trees just yards from the road.
The other evening I went out looking for birds (the most available wild creatures in my new neighborhood). The wind had picked up, and red dust danced around the open spaces between clumps of grass. Not the best weather for finding birds, but I needed the steps, according to my Fit Bit.
Just as I suspected, I couldn’t find many birds. I meandered around, checking all of the usual places, but only saw a few of the usual suspects instead of migrating marvels.
And then I noticed the flowers. Scrawny stems with spindly leaves holding up minute marvels. The quotidian landscape transformed into a wonderland of beauty when I took the time to notice the little bits of beauty at my feet.
Our last rainstorm occurred over a week ago, sometime during the dark hours of night. It had rained long enough to bring fresh blossoms out of the parched earth, though.
Parched Places Produce Beauty
Desert flowers amaze me in so many ways. Their delicate blossoms defy the harsh environment of the high desert. Cold nights, strong winds, and hot days leave the flowers looking worn after just a day or two. Nevertheless, they persist.
My life as a believer reminds me of the contrasts of living in the foothills and living in the desert. While I long for mountaintop experiences where the lush landscape and abundant wildlife give me a foretaste of heaven, I live in the desert.
At times, my spiritual life seems as parched as the land around me. I long for soft hillsides of green where I can imagine Jesus and I ambling along marveling at the beauty together.
I don’t like the parched feeling of chastisement, or perseverance, or doing what I know I should but just don’t feel like doing. Quotidian walks along the desert trails (or should I say, ‘trials’—it’s all about where one places the ‘I’), make me long for an oasis of peace.
The older I get, the more I understand that I can find joy and beauty in overcoming those quotidian things that chafe my soul. When I confess that I needed chastisement. If I keep on doing what I know I should, even if I don’t like to. When I give up something that I know I don’t need, but only want—those choices act like tiny blossoms in my time of dessert travel.
I don’t see fields of flowers or fireworks. I do experience tiny bursts of joy—hard won, and maybe fleeting—that remind me of flowers in the parched land.
What lifts your spirits when you’re traveling through a parched land?