Friday, March 22, 2013

Expectant Awe

A view of the mountains from my front yard

As we sat there in the shadow of the palms, knowing the great silent desert was just behind us, and towering mountain peaks just ahead, we felt full of a strange, expectant awe as if some new, great, wonderful thing might happen at any moment.”
                                                                                                            -George Wharton James

I was exploring some literature which our little city of LaQuinta sends out to new residents when I came across the above quote.  What a perfectly wonderful description of desert spirituality!

In our "Western" culture, we learn to seek out God through our intellect and our will. We study theology and read the Bible. We read books or think profound thoughts in order to figure out the great mystery we call God.  We also say prayers, go to church and engage in various spiritual practices in order to conjure up God's spirit - make God come down out of "His" hiding place.

But the fact is, God is indeed a profound mystery who can never be explained or figured out. And we don't say prayers or engage in rituals in order to entice God to come to us because God is already here.

God is an all encompassing holy and abiding Presence - the One in whom we live and move and have our being. God intimately abides in us and among us but we are often unaware of the abiding cosmic presence because our minds are too preoccupied and our lives too cluttered to take notice.

When I walk out into the vast desert, I am often so overwhelmed by a sense of God's awesome presence, that I find myself unable to think and even unable to pray with words.  All I can do is walk along and listen to the deafening silence. And in the silence I experience an "awe" that I could never explain or analyze or put into words. In the desert silence I have come to expect that something wonderful may indeed happen at any moment.

Take some time today to practice some desert spirituality. Go to a quiet place and simply do "nothing"- don't think or read. Don't even pray. Just listen with a sense of expectant awe.

1 comment:

  1. Paul, once again life has us on parallel paths. I just bought a home in the desert, too, and with a deep hunger for desert stillness. I moved in to my new house in Palm Desert last month. You and I have crossed paths since I was in grade school. I hope we shall meet in person again. Best to you and Karen. With love and fond memories, Jerry Reiter