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Desert Consciousness


Here the immensity, the emptiness, feeds the spirit, and leaves it with no hunger for anything but more space, more light—as if one had suddenly glimpsed the largeness, the emptiness of one’s own soul, and come to terms with it, glorying at last in its open freedom. ~Terry Tempest Williams

Forests are nice, mountains beautiful, canyons charming but none nourish my spirit like a godforsaken desert. None of the others viscerally connect me to the delicate thread of sentient life. None of them move my soul with the intensity of a sparse, wide-open desert, better yet, a red desert populated by gigantic rock people in frozen yoga poses held since the ancient days.

We are kindred, the desert and I. It is there that I feel my stark spirit exposed to the rocks and am not ashamed of my nakedness. It is a connection I have never experience in a forest of a thousand and one trees but experience fully in a solitary, gnarled juniper jutting from a sliver crevice high in a red wall hanging by tendrils to precarious life.

I feel at home in the wide spaces, spaces that neither confine nor constrict my soul. Spaces offering freedom to be my unique self without fear of judgment by the straight back trees, a society postured in arrogance looking down their branches with disdain at the world. The immensity of the desert is a blank slate, unlined paper allowing my spirit to roam freely, wander aimlessly, get lost deeply, know thyself completely.

I become the gnarled juniper high on the red rock wall watching the sun sear the land all the while comfortable in solitude, content to be anchored between slabs of shale, a place where I will live until death do us part from the living.

From the vantage point of Juniper, I am able to scan the immensity, feel connected to the greater whole yet not assimilated. My soul expands, fills the void, touches the soul of every rock and tree and insect and bird and lizard and coyote and….and every being calling the desert home…if only for the blink of a geologic eyelid, if only for the time it takes for me to mingle a single breath with desert consciousness.

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