Miracle. All of it.

I used to live in Tucson, Ariz., and like Mr. Atkins I came to love the Sonoran Desert. The magic of the place, for me, is the way its sparsity makes it legible. It’s easy to identify the few shrubs and cactuses and to witness the drama of survival in their struggle to plant roots and retain water. The changes of the seasons are visible in bird migration patterns and the sensational periods of desert flowering. You can always gain your bearings once you know that the saguaro cactus grows more densely on the southern side of the hills and that you can estimate the recent rainfall by studying whether the ocotillo has dropped or regrown its leaves. When the fauna chooses to be visible, you have an unobstructed view. Whereas forests and mountains are overwhelming in their tangled profusion, the desert teaches an elementary class on nature’s rhythms to anybody who cares to attend.

Mr. Atkins communicates some of this in his book’s loveliest episode, when, while living in southeast Arizona, he gets lost on a solitary hike and stumbles into a rare moment of revelation. Anxiously trying to find his way back to the trail, and menaced by a threatening rattlesnake, he suddenly spots a single cottonwood tree beside a small brook—“the place that had been my destination all along, though I hadn’t known it was there.” In silence he watches a “small cyclone of cadmium-yellow butterflies” and a pair of eagles circling overhead. In this place of emptiness, of danger and derangement and death, he has been shown a secret about the miracle of life.

~ Sam Sacks, a Review of ‘The Immeasurable World by William Atkins’ Solitude in the Sand. Journeys in Desert Places. (July 26, 2018, wsj.com)


Notes:

  • Photo: Olivier Reynes Photography with Saguaro
  • Related Posts: Miracle. All of it.
  • Inspiration: Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

 

Comments

  1. Yes. 👏 Often in these spaces we avoid, or are fearful of, we find exactly what we need.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Such an interesting thought Karen. Just read this and somehow felt you were speaking John O’Donohue’s words and thoughts:

      It is far more creative to work with the idea of mindfulness rather than with the idea of will. Too often people try to change their lives by using the will as a kind of hammer to beat their life into proper shape. The intellect identifies the goal of the program, and the will accordingly forces the life into that shape. This way of approaching the sacredness of one’s own presence is externalist and violent. It brings you falsely outside yourself and you can spend years lost in the wildernesses of your own mechanical, spiritual programs. You can perish in a famine of your own making.

      If you work with a different rhythm, you will come easily and naturally home to yourself. Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more importantly, it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey.

      ~John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom (Harper; September 9, 1997)

      Liked by 7 people

  2. isn’t it amazing how sometimes our greatest moments of beauty burst from our greatest moments of fear? both draw our full attention. our reality is heightened.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. beautiful, despite
    any aversions!
    lived in AZ
    much of my life,
    although at higher
    elevations 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So beautiful. Makes me want to visit… sans rattlesnake encounter…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. —“the place that had been my destination all along, though I hadn’t known it was there.” In silence he watches a “small cyclone of cadmium-yellow butterflies” and a pair of eagles circling overhead. In this place of emptiness, of danger and derangement and death, he has been shown a secret about the miracle of life.

    Miracles should be of no surprise for those who allow themselves to discover God through the beauty of the world that surrounds us. For it is through revelation and reason that God brings into focus from a distorted world His true and unfathomable intent for us from His first thought.

    -Alan

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I hope so Alan, I hope so.

    Like

  7. Absolutely beautiful! Having lived in Tucson/Phoenix all my life, I can completely relate to the sense of awe in seeing plants and animals surviving the intense heat, as well as that fear of being lost (or running out of water with no trail head in sight)… as ksbeth mentioned, the heightened awareness provoked by fear only serves to intensify the joy of finding the path again.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s beautiful. That was in my younger days of traveling. Agoraphobia on top of my claustrophobia makes it hard to see much. Makes it hard to leave home. It sucks. I know you understand.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Beautiful review. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: