Wednesday, January 16, 2013

deserts watered by prayers and tears

"Monks and hermits went out to actual deserts. They were not running away; they were running toward something...someone. They discerned the desert is as much a living place as a dying place."
--Jeffrey Cooper, C.S.C.

If you find yourself in a desert, as it often happens, the most essential rule to survival is understanding most absolutely that you are not deserted.
That in a place that seems so barren and full of death is actually a place full of life.
If someone asked you how this is so, you probably wouldn't have an answer.
I don't know if there is an answer.
Sometimes things are true, and you can't prove them.
You can only say they are so, and when asked why, the answer is: I just know.

A lot of things in this life can't be understood fully without experiencing them.
And that's very frustrating. It's very frustrating for our curious, ever wandering minds that hunger for new knowledge with the unquenchable thirst of a being lost in a desert.

Nature is always expanding, and we feel ourselves caught up in the expanse, and forever falling short of the infinite that nature presents to us.

In a desert, when death is all around, you realize that death is always all around.
The fact that you make it through each day alive is a grand miracle.
The floor underneath you has not yet collapsed, your ceiling hasn't fallen on your head, you haven't been run over by a bicycle, nor have you fallen from a cliff or been attacked by a shark. These are all things that happen to people, and the fact that they have not yet happened to you is something to rejoice in and count your blessings for.
As passive as merely "staying alive" may seem, it most certainly is not.
The effort it takes to get out of bed each day while weighed down by hopelessness and grimness is definitely not passive.

A desert strips away all pretenses we build up that death is somehow Far Off and Far Away.
Death is close at hand.
And since death is so close, the rugged persistence of life is only brought out in more exuberant hues.
The fact that even in lands choked by death, life can thrive, is miraculous to the first degree.
The fact that even in a city like London, filled with poverty, with cold, frozen figures huddled in corners, that there are still mothers walking hand-in-hand with their children, smiling at them with untainted love and joy, that there are couples walking along the Themes and falling in love, that there are fathers giving their daughters piggy-backs is dumb-foundingly unlikely.
But yet, despite the deserts of poverty and pain, the world is populated with people who love one another.
How glorious.
How strange.

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