The desert has always been my least favorite geography. The desert is hot and dry and sand colored. Plus, there’s cactus. I know that people have worked hard to bring water into the desert and there are plenty of oasis-type places there. But the desert is still the desert.
A few years ago, while at the Prince of Peace Abbey for a 24-hour personal retreat, I took a walk around the lovely property. The retreat grounds were lush and landscaped, however, the walking path was a different story. It looked much different than when I had been there previously. It was more desert-like than the lush green of pre-spring.
However, at my strolling pace, and sometimes stopping pace, I caught glimpses of the beauty that could be found even in the most dry brush.
In our spiritual life, most of us would say that the desert-type seasons are our least favorite. We would much prefer the beauty and glory of spring time and its blossoms. Or we might love the harvest season of late summer/early fall when we bring in the fruits of our labor.
Most of us, given the choice, would not plan for a desert season. However, if you find yourself in such a place, do yourself a favor by making some space to slow down to walking pace. Look around and see if you can find traces of grace…traces of beauty. Let these traces draw your heart to God.
If you’ve been in a dry place before, you know that these are the times when the best inner work is done. Our greatest movements forward in our formation happen when things are difficult or dry. Our faith deepens and our eye for grace enlivens.
I’m not saying I like the desert. It is still my least favorite landscape. But when I encounter grace in the least likely places, I have the opportunity to touch on another level of the love and care of God.
Adapted from a blog post dated June 29, 2016.