Yes, the desert is what I’ve always thought it was … not! I strolled the perimeters of St. Andrew’s Abbey in Valyermo, CA a couple of weeks ago with a retreat group. We trudged between splotches of shade. We emptied our water bottles too quickly. We were slices of garlic bread under the broiler, browning too fast and ready to burn. But our fearless leader, John West, had us search the parched and cracked stream bed for signs of life.
They were all around us: a clump of cottonwoods, a shrub more green than gray, water-smoothed rocks glistening with mica and pyrite, birds chirping despite the furnace they live in, and rising up before us, the abbey itself, which completely depends on the underground springs running right beneath our sneakers. Veins of life-giving water were everywhere, all around us. We just couldn’t see them. They had to be coaxed to the surface.
It was a reminder that no matter how dry your life, your faith, or your creativity may feel, there is refreshment closer than you realize. You may not see it right now, but it can be coaxed to the surface with patience and trust. You can be diligent without be panicked.
While I still prefer greenery and water, beauty is all around us. Nature’s beauty is a pretty fail-proof way to find something to be grateful for, even if it’s a weed with a pretty flower or a shiny rock in a dry creek. Nature offers us opportunities to nurture ourselves.