Desert Longings

Maybe it is because the weather outside is frightening, but I have been longing for the desert. The sun.  The heat.  The rock and sand.  The fierce, barren loveliness of it all.

I close my eyes and I can feel the hot wind of The Wilderness of Judea.  I can see the brutal glare of the sun glinting off of the face of Masada.  I can feel the sweat trickle down my back as I hike into the holy quiet of The Wilderness of Zin.  Heat radiates off ancient stones on the path to En Gedi as I run my hand along the rocks where David hid and gaze into the brilliance of the Salt Sea in the distance.

The desert calls to me, but what can I do?  It is December in Tennessee and I don’t exactly have the means to hop an airplane to Israel, or even Arizona for that matter.  I tried out Bikram Hot Yoga on Saturday to see if that would help.  Dont’ ask me about it.  I don’t have anything nice to say.

What was I thinking?

There was heat alright.  Heart pounding, head shattering heat.  I left exhausted instead of refreshed.  Depleted, instead of  renewed.  Angry instead of peaceful.  There was heat and struggle, but there was something missing.

I close my eyes and I am back on the path to En Gedi.  The sun beats down as I adjust my hat and take a drink from the water bottle I carry everywhere I go.  A few more steps and I hear the faint sound of water trickling against the rock.  The sound grows stronger as I  climb the path.  Soon I see a small stream.  Further ahead it widens and quickens. In the distance I hear the steady roar of water as the world begins to turn green around me.  Then, around the bend everything is transformed as water crashes from the top of a high cliff into a deep pool in front of me.

And that is why I love the desert.  The sun.  The heat.  The rock and sand.  The fierce, barren loveliness of it all.  It is because I am reminded that no matter how deep my wilderness, there is hope.  No matter how dry and weary the land, an oasis awaits me. (Psalm 63:1) No matter how desperate and broken I become, I can safely sing in the shadow of God’s wings. (Psalm 63:7)

“Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.  I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.  My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.  On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.  Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.”  (Psalm 63:3-7)

One Reply to “Desert Longings”

  1. you stirred in me a longing for the desert canyon hikes of Palm springs. where a few hours effort takes me away from the valley floor and urban blight to cool water, shade from lush palms, and blessed quiet. wishing you wonderful journeys, here and now, and eternally.

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