“Brown. Everything is brown,” I remember saying to my husband when we first drove around our new city of San Diego. In an attempt to keep beauty in perspective, I coined the term “California pretty,” which meant “It’s as pretty as brown and dry can possibly get, but it’s nothing compared to the Blue Ridge Mountains.”
Hiking on the East coast meant hovering shade trees teeming with life, lush mountains and a flora full of color. I quickly learned that hiking in Southern California was something altogether different, more a strenuous walk through sand and cracked dirt than an uphill climb through a canopy of life. I distinctly remember hiking an hour to a”waterfall” a friend had recommended only to find a small channel of water cascading down a dismal 2 foot cliff. Disappointed doesn’t begin to explain my perspective at our new environmental digs.
However, having now had four years to grow accustomed to the chaparral and dry brush, I am beginning to appreciate the subtle, searching beauty of the desert.
When life is lush, when greenery and torrents of rushing water are ubiquitous, it can be hard to appreciate the beauty. The sheer plenty obscures the pleasure. When life is cracked and dry, one is forced to find and focus on the simple beauty in the minutia.
A singular pink flower here, a ripe, red Prickly pear fruit there. These are the treasures of desert beauty. They are more appreciated because they must be sought out. Their subtly makes them more succulent (pun intended). The dryness teaches one to savor the rare sound of running water, even if it is more trickling than teaming.
Frequent tromps around the physical desert have grown my appreciation for the subtle beauty found in the spiritual deserts of life.
Given the option regarding my spiritual milieu, I would prefer the Appalachian Trail in perpetuity over the desert meandering. However, our heavenly Father, being wiser than we, knows that seasons of desert brown attune the eyes to a different wavelength of beauty that would be missed or trampled on otherwise.
In prolonged seasons of drought and drab colors, the simplest shade of yellow or the slightest hint of green bring a joy that those surrounded by shade trees could never understand.
A Desert Beauty
There is a desert beauty,
Dwellers there can tell.
The truth the dessert speaks:
It is not perfect, but it is well.
Desert-dwellers know it:
The smell of arid simplicity;
For the heat of long exposure
Gradually burns off duplicity.
The subtle gifts of dryness
Visitors know deep within.
For droughts bring clarity
to need and hope and sin.
“Nothing but Christ will do,”
‘Tis the Dessert dwellers cry.
“He who led me to the dessert,
must my every need supply.”
Walk with eyes open through the spiritual desserts of life; among the brown, dry, cracked earth, there are gifts of great beauty. The Father who led you there planted them for your joy and His glory.