Life in the Desert | Shaping the Spirit Within

From the archives April 27, 2006

The journey through life, full of many twists and turns, can at times leave you breathless, wondering where you went wrong. It appears that going wrong is the only obvious explanation for the turmoil that you face. With the soul parched, struggling to find meaning and purpose, the desolate landscape of a desert saps the life out of each step. With the heel dragging, the footfall landing on cacti, the hot sand blistering the feet, you don’t remember when the lush landscape of abundance deserted you. Yet, as I have ventured through many a long desert-journey as part of my life-path, I have discovered the desert to be an important aspect of a well-lived life.

Each person will have a unique life-story to live, a unique life-purpose to manifest, and a unique passion to embrace and share with the world. This is where the desert really does its most miraculous work. The moving dunes, the sun-baked rock, the flash-floods and weathered and shaped terrain beholds a grandiose beauty that is inspiring to the visitor. There is superb and profound strength found in such a place and a beauty that is hard to deny when the observant and discerning eye stops the chattering mind and really takes it in all the detail.

Often times the parched soul will be unaware of the riches that are all around as they travel the road of life this way and that way in desperation. The desperate struggle to survive this blasted furnace and seemingly desolate landscape causes an anxious panic as one mirage after another is chased into oblivion. Each time a mirage is chased, the traveler will come closer and closer to the lesson and learning that is screaming from within. This inner-voice of wisdom is difficult to hear over the moans of self-pity and cries of anguish and pain.

In time, the traveler will begin to settle as the pain of festering blisters and excruciating thirst bring the attention back to the body’s wisdom. Noticing the state of self and a quiet inner-voice, realizations of what is not wanted, the imagination begins to form a vision of what is wanted that will shape a new reality and reveal an invisible path within the desert landscape.

Although weakened and discouraged, the traveler slows the pace and balances the sight between the horizon and self; what is wanted and what is not wanted. As this awareness grows, panic subsides and surrender takes place, the traveler can now begin to see the fruit blooming in the desert. This is what it is to change the focus from an old lifetime of values to a new path to the truest inner spirit.

New values can be formed and discovering the great wealth in the smallest grain of sand, honoring it with gratitude and blessing, more abundance can be found, allowing the trail toward the oasis to reveal itself. Now aware, the senses are heightened and whispers on the wind tell stories of others who have traveled and learned on this road to inner-truth. Observing the nature of the wild new wisdom is also found and finding that first watering hole bringing temporary relief and refreshment to the weary traveler.

However, the journey is not over it is soon discovered and leaving the waterhole is a must. Staying too long will only lengthen the duration of the journey and potentially leads to new calamities as wildlife and other travelers come with their own stories to live. With a courageous step, the traveler ventures forward again back into the wilderness of the desert, momentarily overwhelmed with the inhospitable heat that wants to consume. Focusing the awareness again, remembering the lesson learned the sight is set back to the present and self, to find the balance between the two worlds so that insight will reveal itself. A personal alchemy is practiced with focus, intention, and attention, showing the way back along the invisible path that reveals itself to the aware. Each step brings many instances to observe and learn, to discern and hone, and the traveler gains clarity of what is wanted and what is not wanted.

The most difficult aspect for some in such an inhospitable landscape is the art of gratitude and yet gratitude is the gift to the teacher within who will grow stronger. Giving in gratitude, the teacher is able to impart the lessons judiciously and expediently, making the hidden path visible and straighter than the meandering wide road of malcontent. The malcontent traveler often finds themselves sitting alone beside the road panting with want while the grateful traveler finds companions that make the journey light. Even so, there are generous lovers of life who will extend a hand to the malcontent, if only they will pick themselves up after a period of encouragement and compassion.

Part of my life-story also saw me in the midst of struggle, blind and groping for the toilet handle so that I might flush the crap out of my life. With the passing of time, my experience lends to observance as my awareness grows and gains clarity. With clarity increasing in focus I clear out what I don’t want in my life and continue to make room for what I do want in my life. With quick refreshing experiences of what success may be, an overwhelming desire to lean into the momentary comfort takes over and I rest. Before long I realize I cannot stay here and must continue the journey.

On the first leg of the struggle my panic kept me lost, blind, and desperate. Then the observance of wants revealed a path as I watched for what showed up, and my gratitude solidified my vision of who I am and where I want to go. Again I continue, able to trust in the process, weathering the storm, grateful for the shade, the sun, the water, and each piece of fruit discovered on the way. The time arrives when I now see the lush green on the horizon, the desert harshness has lost its’ edge, and the truth of who I am blossoms forth bringing riches to the world.

The most miraculous and joyous truth of this journey is that the blossoming riches for the world are also for myself. The grateful heart, the giving heart, the observant wisdom, all know the intimate balance of the elements and forces of nature; not just the raw laws of the wilderness but also those of humanity and spirit. In honouring these lessons and sharing the bounty is service to humanity and to self, to Spirit and to spirit, to Love and love through the gentle art of generously giving and graciously receiving.


  1. Lucy Avatar

    I agree with all of your concepts on this issue. Although Jesus was born into the Jewish tradition, He followed the tradition of His heavenly Father and lead a life of spirituality.

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