"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Child of the desert--8 days 'til Christmas

"Life, in the deserts," 5 x 7 watercolor
He was a child of the desert, spending more of his life there than in the cities or towns.
Three of the world's major religions began and grew from people and gods of the desert--children of Abraham, a child of the desert--Judaism, Christianity, Islam.  Why? How?
Are deserts where people find God, or does God find people in the deserts?
 Ignore the stereotype image of shifting sands of the desert. Those of us who have grown up in arid areas know the desert is more varied than that...places of stark landscapes, little water, vast skies, withering daytime heat, stunning nighttime starscapes.
People find solitude in deserts, and humility from finding how small they are in vast landscapes.
It's no wonder Islam, home on the largest deserts, including those dunes we all imagine,  in the world, have brought us must astronomy and mathematics. Out here you have time to think and observe and create.
It's no wonder that the children of Israel, exiled in Egypt and Babylon, and wandering 40 years in the desert, give us poetry and another religion.
"I cared for you in the desert, in the land of drought."--Hosea 13:5
It's no wonder that Jesus and his teaching come with insights about truth and humility.
The King James Bible did us no favor by referring to the desert as wilderness. I suppose that's because those English translators had never seen a desert.
Jesus had. Born and growing up in an arid town. 
"And the child continued to grow and become strong in spirit and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel."--Luke 1:80
Walking and working in the dusty landscapes where wells were landmarks, he sought followers there, but also sought solitude, spending 40 days fasting and being tempted in deserts.
"Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil."--Luke 4:1
He knew about the deserts in people's lives, in regimented religion that preached rules and complications and ignored the freedom and spirit of living in deserts.
In the deserts, the child of the desert found not death, but life.

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