I long for the desert.
In the desert, the blessing of life, its humid breath, was easy to discern.
In between the rocks that outlined the dusty trails, trails that were scratched anonymously into mountainsides, the ones you ambled for no reason other than because you felt you must, the ones that almost made you crazy because the dry desolation—emanating to infinity, desiccating you whole, crunching under every step of your thorn-proof boots—just should not have been that breathtakingly beautiful (truly, it made no Earthly sense), in between those rocks, or, at least, in between every nine-hundred, ninety-nine thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-ninth and one-millionth rock, there had been, impossibly, a flower. A yellow poppy, perhaps. Or a lizard. Or the fallen spine of a once majestic (you could tell) saguaro.
So I long for the desert where life, if you listen closely, interrupts desolation with a still, small voice.
But instead you live in the subtropics. No, not the tropics, not where life makes your eyes hurt and your skin crawl, but in the subtropics, where the stubby scrub-brush frustrates your senses, neither surprising you nor overwhelming you. In the subtropics, where “failure to thrive” was once scrawled in the chart by the knobby hand of a perpetually disappointed pediatrician at Texas Children’s Hospital. Where it compensates with a new Corvette or F-250, pulls into the driveway of a master-planned house, and barricades itself behind a hi-tech security system and the arsenal of guns it bought at The Arms Room, the one with the bouncy castle in the parking lot during its Christmas sale. Or where life just crawled up out of the watery mass only to be swallowed whole by the loamy ground, or was washed into briny bayous where it learns, through improvised imitation, how to avoid the mouths of jagged-backed gators and the tide-tearing talons of aloof osprey. In the subtropics, where God-given life no longer trusts even itself.
And so I long for the desert, where grace is perpendicular to desolation, where tea is bitter, not sweetened. Someday I will tell you the story of the bread I found in the desert, in between the rocks that outlined a dusty trail…but not today.
Today I simply locate myself in some nondescript suburb between Houston and Galveston, at the end of hurricane season, the one with Harvey, with Irma, and Maria. Today I introduce myself to you as one who is seeking daily the bread of life, not in the desert anymore but somewhere, maybe, over a watery mass.
I’m hoping you might join me.