Driving through the California desert made me reflect on the
impermanence and insignificance of our accomplishments. Even at eighty
miles per hour the old historic Route 66 is decrepit, lined by
crumbling buildings rusting in the sun. The isolated pockets of
humanity fighting a losing battle against the desert swallowing them
I enjoyed floating on the artificial lakes surrounded by picturesque
planned communities, soaking up the life giving solar energy and
loving the dry reptilian heat. Yet the feeling of impermanence hung
heavily in the air. It feels like the American dream is disintegrating
around us. Our artificial communities, our cities built in defiance of
nature, our little oases are being reclaimed by the desert of time and
Desert communities have always fascinated me. There’s something
arcane, something occult, and liminal, about abandoned gas stations
dying on the side of forgotten highways. Waystations in a dead land.
The desert feels like a wrong turn on the way west. A critical time in
the heroic journey.
These past couple of years I’ve grown to like the desert.
The desert has powerful magic. The Jews spent forty years wandering
the desert. Jesus spent forty days and forty nights then met Satan.
The Desert Fathers were early Christian monastic hermits who practiced
inner and outer spiritual stillness through isolation in the deserts
A strange place, hostile to life yet also teeming with it.