Desert Days

Toes gritted together by dry sand and endless arid heat marked yet another day for him. Sandals (so appropriately named) had long worn down with ragged thonging, unmistakeable evidence to His trek's duration. Still he persevered.

The rising dunes encompassed all before his eyes. They towered dauntingly as he trudged them each day, knowing that they would again move each night. Each dusk sirocco was also sure to create fresh dunes while flattening existing ones. Daily the sandscape was guaranteed to be different. Solitude was his unchosen desert passage.

Uninterrupted dunes continued to silently threaten his desert days. Vultures circled with a menacing expectation above him in this marathon. Empty bones of their previous prey littering irregular intervals only intensified their menace.

Curiously the hardships of this wilderness retreat led him to yearn for the things of a life he had never known, instead of the things he had left behind.

To walk into the desert is to always leave a life behind. Unquestionably, comfort is replaced with discomfort, friendships with loneliness, and well-being with dis-ease.

Trekking these golden dunes under the scorching sun seared his skin but strengthened his soul.

This desert, this wilderness of no retreat, was a jail without boundaries. He received no relief and could find no release. His body was imprisoned without bars (but his spirit soared). Razor wire, guard towers and walls were absent. Silent sentinels and unseen alarms were non-existent, yet there was no escape.

Apparitions on the horizon regularly seduced his senses. He would never reach them. Disappointment always ensued. They only served to magnify the distress of his forward drudgery.

However, within him, within his physical distress there was a place of power, even a seat of calm. As his body strove through this death-inviting wilderness, his spirit and soul sailed strong.

In this wasteland no wealth could be gathered, no favor garnered nor fame sought. No one knew he was there and no one would even care.

With relentlessly aching thighs and calves, he would still force one step after another. His parched throat bellowed for water and his burning skin screamed for shade. This tortured body was never going to permit itself to be ignored. His body moved because his mind knew to stop in the desert is to invite death.

In the wilderness, life's betterments and betrayals, blessings and burdens quickly fade through insignificance to nothingness. The verdant jungle of life is replaced by the drought of the desert while on this trek. Paradoxically this death-beckoning place will indeed become the place of true life.

In the wilderness, the toxicity of life's jungle is replaced by the purity (indeed simplicity) of the desert's emptiness. In emptiness the spirit finds life and the soul is revived. It is then that God's tender speech is heard.

Desert trekking removes the graspings at earth. When an inescapable death surrounds, the only place to grasp at is heaven - the place of life.

As the dunes are trod, as the skin melts and the heart pounds, true death is found. Breath will not be lost, however the spirit is enlivened. Self-death arrives when the verdant jungle becomes long lost from sight and only the desert dominates.

Now crawling on his wearied knees, desperate to top this current dune, he fell prostate on its near vertical lip. Utterly and completely spent of all physical resolve, he beholds a city before him that is no mere human apparition. This city positively radiates. It glows, for its streets are paved with gold.

Paradise is always at the end of the wilderness.

The difficulty of the journey does not define the quality of the destination.


29th June 2010 - Rev 21:10


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