Desert beauty

Laraine Bennett

It’s early morning in the high desert and I am running on the path through the ranch. I inhale the cold, fresh sage-scented air. The sun is still behind the dark mountain, a glowing edge of cadmium orange promising the dawn.

The path, lined with smooth, round rocks like loaves of stone bread, winds higher and now I can see the cattleman below on horseback guiding his herd. As the sun breaks above the mountains, the desert bursts into life. In the morning light, desert grass gleams like spun gold, flaxen waves punctuated by bursts of bright yellow flowers topping sage brush. Lizards and chipmunks skitter across the path.

We think of the desert as, well, a desert. As in: nothing there but endless dryness and hot desolation, a wilderness of desolation. In the spiritual life, the desert is key. Before embarking on his ministry, Jesus is driven by the Spirit into the wilderness, where he is tempted by the devil. The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years after they left the slavery of Egypt. The desert is the dryness of a spiritual life without consolation but also it’s the place of solitude, away from the world, where holy men and women went to seek God.

But always, at the edge of the desert, there is the lure of the world: And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant and said to him, “to you I will give all this authority and their glory…” (Luke 4:5-6).

Below the desert trail, like a jeweled necklace lies the city: sapphire blue, glittering emeralds, twinkling lights. This city is awake 24/7; neon lit casinos beckon gamblers and party goers, cabs shamelessly promote legal brothels. Dark mountains loom above the city, stern.

The desert fathers, the first contemplatives, didn’t run to the desert simply to escape the world: to avoid temptations and to avoid people. As Baptized Christians we are all called to be in relationship: with God, ourselves, and others. The holy hermits were not engaged in a negative escapism, but rather were seeking God and holiness.

As we do today.

My breath is uneven as I run, gulping the cold, pure air. The desert is beautiful, but hard. I am still seduced by the world, giving in daily to materialism, vanity and pride. Like the Israelites who wandered for 40 years in the desert, longing all the while for the fleshpots of their slavery.

The desert is not empty, but it’s purifying. The psalmist yearns for the peace and simplicity where he dwells with God alone: O that I had wings like a dove to fly away and be at rest. So I would escape far away and take refuge in the desert.

We may not be able to physically flee to the desert like the holy men and women of the 4th century, but we can create some space in our daily lives where we retreat in silence and contemplation. Even if it is a stolen 15 minutes before the household wakes up, a solitary walk in nature, or a brief visit to the adoration chapel, these moments spent away from the worries and temptations of the world will renew our peace and serenity, our commitment to following Christ’s path of love.

Topics: Faith

Laraine Bennett co-authored, with her husband Art, The Temperament God Gave Your Spouse and The Temperament God Gave You, published by Sophia Institute Press. Their new book, The Emotions God Gave You, is due Spring 2011. Please visit their website at http://temperaments.sophiainstitute.com/.

View all articles by Laraine Bennett

Ads by Google
(What's this?)


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)



Abortion (42)  Advent & Christmas (19)  Beauty (2)  Bioethics (4)  Books (55)  Church history (14)  Church teaching (28)  Contraception (22)  Culture (119)  Current Events (85)  Dating (15)  Death (4)  Depression (14)  Divorce (7)  Education (12)  Eucharist (3)  Exercise (3)  Faith (213)  Family (86)  Fashion (5)  Feminism (12)  Fertility (2)  Fitness (1)  Food (2)  Forgiveness (17)  Friendship (18)  Generosity (2)  Girl Scouts (2)  Grieving (1)  Health (23)  Home Management (17)  Humor (14)  Leadership (4)  Lent & Easter (12)  Liturgical Year (9)  Marian devotion (8)  Marriage (33)  Mature Years (5)  Meditations (17)  Mental illness (1)  Mercy (1)  Military Families (2)  Ministry (4)  Miscarriage (1)  Motherhood (55)  Movies (1)  Music (4)  Natural Family Planning (2)  Nutrition (4)  Parenting (44)  Personal Growth (105)  Politics (3)  Pornography (3)  Prayer (31)  Pro-Life (26)  Psychology (1)  Reflections (4)  Relationships (44)  Religious freedom (10)  Saints (9)  Scripture (6)  Service (8)  Sexuality (18)  Single years (4)  Social justice (1)  Social Networking (5)  Special Needs (3)  Spirituality (2)  Suffering (13)  Suicide (1)  Travel (11)  Welcome (1)  Women in the Church (3)  Women's Health (20)  Workplace (12)  Writings of the Saints (8)  Young Women (39) 


Liturgical Calendar

April 20, 2014


All readings:
Today »
This year »

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 24:13-35


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Second Reading:: Col 3:1-4
Gospel:: Jn 20:1-9

Homily of the Day

Lk 24:13-35


Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
Text only

Follow us: