It snowed here last week. Snow isn’t typical, nor is it frequent, here in the Sonoran Desert. However, it seems one aspect of climate change is that we have more extremes. The following morning, the temperature dipped to 27 degrees at our house—well below freezing. Fortunately, this cold snap did not last long enough to damage native cacti, as certain adaptations help them survive short periods of below-freezing temperatures.
Like cacti, I’ve learned to survive periods of below-freezing temperatures, although I’ve been here long enough to become more susceptible to winter’s chill. I lived for eighteen years in eastern Massachusetts and the number of gray days was challenging for me, especially in winter. As the sun rose and shone in through our windows last week, I relished the gift of central heating and the glory of solar warmth.
As I’ve noted elsewhere, I’m a child of the desert. Raised in the high-desert beauty of New Mexico, I also spent time here in the Sonoran Desert as a child because my paternal grandparents lived here. (In fact, their final home in Tucson is in the process of being sold right now.) I love the warmth here (even in the height of summer) and repetitious sunny days. Consequently, snow in the desert feels out of place. I enjoyed taking photos of snowy cacti (and I’ll share some highlights on Instagram this week), but I’m grateful not to experience much snow.
I also realize how fortunate I am that I get to choose where I live. As Putin continues to pound Ukraine, I’m painfully aware of how many helpless people are caught in the crossfire. They are unable to leave and/or unwilling to abandon their precious homeland. They are enduring a bitterly cold winter without adequate food, shelter, and power. Theirs is a very different kind of desert experience.
Lent begins on Wednesday. I’m wondering what time of year Jesus spent in the desert. Did he shiver in winter’s cold or even see snow flurries while he fasted and prayed? That’s highly unlikely today, but we don’t know how cold it got in the Judean Desert two thousand years ago.
This week, I invite you to ponder different kinds of desert experiences. What desert experiences is God inviting you into this Lenten season?
Mother Shirin your wonderful fluid prose is so plain and beautiful. You are a joy to read. Saying this to you is inadequate. It just makes me think that you people at St. Philips are tangible treasures. My best to you and yours.
Thank you, Timothy. (FYI, I am Mother in spirit, but not in fact; I am not ordained.) I am so glad that my message spoke to you. I pray that the Spirit will continue to bless you through my words and others’.
Your final question was interesting to me and I considered that I usually consider “desert experiences” as imposed – not something God invites me into! I am wondering if a perception shift might impact my Lenten experience? I used your question as an “opening thought” and email invitation to our Centering Prayer and Lectio meeting. I hope the recipients find it as interesting an invitation as I did! Thank you for the inspiration!
Thank you for sharing your response to the idea of a desert experience as invitation…and I do pray that your group will find it interesting—perhaps even provocative—as well! Blessings on your possible perception shift in Lent, and thank you for sharing your journey.