Where I go I just don’t know. I might end up somewhere in Mexico. When I find my peace of mind, I’m gonna’ give you some of my good time. – The Red Hot Chili Peppers
This is my first day back within the tangle of the world wide webs. Sorting through emails is always quite a task after ten days of being outside of the reach of wi-fi.
Camping in south Texas was good. Time in the silence of the desert is its own kind of thing. I am most familiar with camping in the mountains, in the forest, or near bodies of water. These are the spaces of nature that are full and rich. The desert is poor and sparse, dry and dusty. A solitary person in the desert faces his or her own inner poverty. It is a lonely landscape that leaves you with nothing in the surroundings to hold the space for you. This, along with the beautiful silence of the land, creates a unique environment for introspection and spiritual reflection.
I read from The Wisdom of the Desert by Thomas Merton. “To fly into the desert in order to be extraordinary is only to carry the world with you as an implicit standard of comparison.” When Christianity became the dominant religion of Rome, the primary Christian sacrifice of martyrdom no longer existed. Some felt that Christianity had been cheapened by mass Roman endorsement. The so-called “Desert Fathers and Mothers” went into the desert to create a new way of life and cultivate a way of purity and holiness.
Merton’s book is a collection of sayings. While the desert does not make one extraordinary (in the ordinary sense of the word!), it did bring one’s soul into contact with our precious ordinariness. “Whatever you see your soul desire according to God,” says one Desert Father, “do that thing, and you shall be safe.” In other words, much of the spiritual life is trying to understand the desires of our soul, our true wishes apart from the myriad ways in which daily life with its demands pulls us apart from ourselves, from the sacred stirrings within us that we wish to be faithful to.