This image was taken in the Mesquite Sand Dunes of Death Valley National Park, a place I have visited on several occasions. I’ve hiked through these dunes each trip but certainly recall my very first time there. I was unprepared and despite the numerous warning signs about bringing plenty of water out on a hike, I set out from my car with little more than a camera and one small bottle of water. Anyone who has been there or to a similar place knows that it’s easy to “lose the horizon line”, that is… to become disoriented and, in my case, hopelessly lost.
Such a place is barren, yet beautiful. There are high peaks and there are low valleys. As I set out that day, the sun had not yet fully risen and it was comfortable, maybe even chilly. After several hours, the temperate was well over a hundred degrees and coupled with my dehydration, I experienced extreme heat. It was a place and a time full of great contrasts.
It’s no wonder that wandering through the desert can be a metaphor for life… and a reminder of the time that Christ contemplated his own future. This is, of course, what we consider during Lent.
Thoroughly and completely exhausted, confused and afraid… I sat within the lowest point of one of the huge sand craters and considered my dire situation. Eventually, I remembered that I took a photograph earlier, as I departed the parking lot, out over the sand dunes.
Looking at the screen on the back of my camera offered an orientation point. I lined the reflected image up with the scene before my eyes and knew then where to walk. The mid-day haze had prevented me from seeing the road but I walked with faith, knowing that I now had my bearings. Knowing I could proceed with confidence, despite my inability to actually see the destination.
We sometimes wander.
We sometimes experience profound highs and desperate lows.
Let’s consider during Lent that which helps us to re-orient, to gain our bearings, to proceed with faith…