He went out the mountain to pray… Luke 6:12

Walking in the Desert with God

Desert in Nevada

It is an act of faith to venture into isolated areas of the Nevada High Desert where my husband and I love to explore.  Each journey is sacred and reminds us that no matter how diligently we prepare for a trip, we will have challenges along the way: some minor; others serious.  Help is not readily available in the high desert–a rescue can take days–so we are acutely aware that it is God’s mercy which will safely deliver us home.

My husband and I visited the Nevada High Desert for the first time a couple of years ago and I often wonder that we were so promptly drawn to it.  This desert of northern Nevada is understated in ways that cause many travelers to shun it.  It does not share the dramatic vistas of the southwest deserts– its features are less architecturally conspicuous and its colors more muted, their spectrum narrower.  Imbued as it is with such geological humility, the Nevada High Desert does not instantly awe or inspire; rather, as one forges, awe mounts.

The northern Nevada desert promotes awareness of God.  It is a place in which routine concerns easily succumb to space, silence, and solitude.  It is a place that establishes within us the certain knowledge that our lives rest in God’s hands.  It is a place in which to wonder how, for centuries, desert monks on spiritual quests have summoned the courage to set out on their journeys; and it is a place in which to wonder how we came to be so blessed, as to be walking in the desert with God.

Much of our affinity for the Nevada High Desert derives from our faith and our proclivity for solitary worship but there are also elements of adventure in our journeys: the desert is a harsh environment.  Despite our best efforts at preparation, break-downs, bog-downs, injuries and other circumstances that waylay an excursion, can eventually result in survival threats: thirst, hunger, disorientation, and dangerously extreme temperatures that lead to heat stroke or hypothermia.  When my husband and I choose the desert, we knowingly submit to conditions that make us vulnerable.  If it is God’s will to visit enduring hardship upon us there, we are confident that He will also be the source of our relief.

62 responses

  1. selah

    your blog is beautiful and inspiring. I count myself blessed that you visited mine today so that I could find yours.. am now following you..

    Vicki (selah)

    March 26, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    • Thank you! It’s wonderful to be in the company of a fellow Christian. I will follow yours too. Let’s take the journey together.

      March 26, 2012 at 10:09 pm

      • selah

        wonderful!

        March 26, 2012 at 10:24 pm

  2. Hello there fellow traveller. Thanks for visiting us at eighty wickets. Your site is beautiful and stirring. I have long been interested in the role of the desert in the spiritual journey, so it is lovely to discover your writing and photos. Shalom and tread safely.

    March 27, 2012 at 10:41 am

    • Hello Merryn,

      It appears that you have embarked on quite a profound journey of your own. The delicate etchings which your writings produce make it easy for us to share in your joys!
      –Vivian

      March 27, 2012 at 4:03 pm

      • Thank you, Vivian. We are on a big physical journey right now, but I am even more interested in the inner pilgrimage, whether done on the move or in stillness. Peace to you, M

        April 2, 2012 at 8:04 pm

  3. I feel such a peaceful aura in your blog and look forward to your future posts. Shanti, Shanti, Shanti…

    March 29, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    • Thank you! I am pleased to make your acquaintance and honored by your response to my blog.

      –Vivian

      March 30, 2012 at 12:37 am

  4. You have a wonderful blog. Thank you for visiting mine.

    March 30, 2012 at 1:44 pm

  5. beautiful words and pictures – i am glad i found your blog. love from germany

    April 25, 2012 at 11:40 pm

  6. Awesome, and thanks for the like on my blog!

    April 28, 2012 at 2:43 pm

  7. Hi

    Just found your blog, it is lovely. Thanks for sharing your walk of faith.

    June 2, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    • Thank you for visiting! I am so glad you enjoy the blog and I appreciate your comment.

      June 3, 2012 at 3:26 am

  8. I just chance upon your site and was immediately drawn to it. The photos are wonderfully captivating and from what you are writing about, one can assume that you are embarking on a wonderful adventure. I’m so glad we can connect here. Hope to get to know you better. Will visit often to read your posts. God bless!

    July 7, 2012 at 6:08 am

    • Thank you for your very kind words. I am delighted to hear from you and look forward to being in touch.

      July 7, 2012 at 11:56 pm

      • The feeling is mutual. Hope to browse through you site again. Will get in touch then. Have a blessed time!

        July 8, 2012 at 2:18 am

  9. shofar

    I’ve had just one, memorable desert wilderness experience camping with friends outside of Seattle. The place was called Ephrata; I remember its Bible name. The first thing I did was holler as loud as I could into the vastness of the desert. The most unbelievable discovery while hiking one day was to come across a spring in the desert and a couple people who were already frolicking in it! Somebody wrote a book called ‘Streams in the Desert’. It was amazing to find water in the desert!
    What a remarkable God we have!!!

    July 19, 2012 at 2:20 am

    • There is nothing like the surprise of coming across a spring in the desert during hot waather. It is such a source of delight as you now know.

      “Streams in the Desert” by L.B. Cowman is a Christian daily devotional (there is a quote from it in the sidebar on my home page.)

      Thanks for visiting. God bless!

      July 20, 2012 at 5:54 pm

  10. seamistandmagnolias

    You have such a lovely blog. I’ve always felt closer to God when I’m outdoors in His beautiful creation; something that not many understand…and it’s nice to ‘meet’ other Christians who feel the same way! Thanks for visiting and liking my post.

    July 20, 2012 at 12:56 am

    • Thank you for your kind words. My husband and I feel blessed to be called to pray and worship in nature. It provides a deep and necessary balance for us.

      You have a beautiful blog. I look forward to following. God bless!

      July 20, 2012 at 5:33 pm

      • seamistandmagnolias

        You are very welcome and thank you!

        July 22, 2012 at 9:23 pm

  11. Contemplative. Meditative. Your words are filled with a quiet hope that infuses the soul fortunate to find its way here. I am always grateful to meet and walk alongside a pilgrim in this journey of life.

    “Streams in the Desert” is a very precious book for me and walked me through some very difficult moments in life.

    “The oriental shepherd always walked ahead of his sheep. He was always out in front. Any attack upon the sheep had to take him into account first. Now God is out in front. He is in our tomorrows, and it is tomorrow that fills people with fear. Yet God is already there. All the tomorrows of our life have to pass through Him before they can get to us.” ~ F.B Meyer (January 14)

    With many warm greetings from Finland, Sharon

    August 1, 2012 at 11:39 am

    • Blessings,

      Thank you for your thoughtful remarks. “Streams in the Desert” has been in my reflections since, during a recent hike in a desert canyon, I encountered a stream that traversed my trail several times. I have been contemplating a post about the walk and the book. You have inspired me to remove the book from its shelf and begin work.

      Yours is a lovely blog. I look forward to following.

      August 1, 2012 at 8:02 pm

  12. I love what you are doing with your blog! I grew up in Wyoming and your photos remind me of many areas there. Your photos are amazing!

    August 2, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    • Thank you! I’m a new photographer and always challenged when photographing the desert to capture its transcendent quality.

      The west is so beautiful, isn’t it? I have not been to Wyoming but it’s on my list.

      You have a delightful blog! I look forward to more!

      August 2, 2012 at 4:14 pm

  13. I am so pleased to discover your beautiful and thoughtful blog. Many see and celebrate God’s creative work in nature, and I was struck that you also have a sense of God’s mercy. May you continue to walk where God takes you.

    August 7, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    • I appreciate your visit and your kind words. God’s mercy is a blessing which I cherish, as are His works of nature.

      August 7, 2012 at 6:06 pm

  14. I visited the high desert many years ago and it’s been one of those places that keeps drawing me back in my soul. I must plan a trip again. May God always be with you on your adventures!

    August 9, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    • Thank you. The Nevada desert is truly our sanctuary.

      If you do return to the high desert, I hope you’ll share your experiences with your readers:)

      August 9, 2012 at 9:28 pm

  15. I am drawn to both your words and your beautiful photographs, and I am inspired by your faith in God. Thank you for sharing. Thanks, too, for the follow, which is greatly appreciated. Blessings from Lizzie Joy

    August 10, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    • Thank you. I am delighted that you enjoy the blog and that you are touched by our faith. You have a beautiful Travelogue and I look forward to following!

      August 10, 2012 at 4:39 pm

  16. We drove all over the West during the ’80s and ’90s including the high desert country of northern Nevada. Lately we have been traveling to other countries, mostly in Europe. Someday I hope to convert all of those slides from the old days to digital and post some of them on my blog. Thanks for visiting.

    August 21, 2012 at 7:02 am

    • Thank you for your very lovely comment. I am just walking out the door headed for the Nevada desert right now… Safe travels and God bless.

      August 21, 2012 at 5:14 pm

  17. Vivian,
    I really love your photos and your stories so I am nominating you for a One Lovely Blog Award!
    For more details, please see here:
    http://streetsofatlanta.wordpress.com/2012/09/08/one-lovely-blog-award-nomination-by-gabriel-photography/

    September 8, 2012 at 7:19 pm

  18. hello dear traveler, if i were to describe your blog in one word, it would be ‘gorgeous’. It’s truly beautiful, inspiring & a treat to browse through! :)

    September 14, 2012 at 5:25 am

    • I’m delighted that you enjoy the blog and find it inspiring. Thank you for your visit and your very kind remarks.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:22 pm

  19. XplorNV

    I found this blog completely by accident and I love it. It’s a rare treat to come across fellow seekers that seem to ‘get it’. I’ve never found God in a church – only in the desert and I live to be there as much as possible. I’m blessed to live in Humboldt County and have the quick access that I have.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:41 am

    • Thank you so much for visiting and for leaving a lovely comment. The desert is a very particular sanctuary and apparently one that we share.

      My husband and I do attend church and we do love our church. But I believe that our sojourns into the desert broaden and deepen our relationship with God in a way that our church could not.

      How fortunate for you to live so close to the desert. Safe travels and God bless.

      September 15, 2012 at 4:19 pm

  20. I adore all that you adore..Solitude, peace, nature the presence of God. I have been a wilderness wanderer and in the desert too and it is only my Father that quenches my thirst. I too love my Streams in the Desert daily devotional. Thank you for joining me at in other words and pictures..

    September 26, 2012 at 2:48 am

    • Thank you for your visit and for leaving me such a delightful comment. I look forward to enjoying your many diverse expressions of God’s love.

      September 26, 2012 at 5:32 pm

  21. The first time I read one of your blogs, Psalm 46:10 came to mind “Be still and know that I am God…” Have never ventured into the desert , my sanctuary here in Ecuador are the empty beaches. Inspiring posts, lovely photos.. God Bless, Mary

    December 7, 2012 at 10:54 am

    • Dear Mary, Thank you for sending me such a beautiful note. My husband and I feel very blessed to enjoy a relationship with God and the desert. I’ve never been to Ecuador so I look forward to learning about life there through your posts. Love and many blessings, Vivian

      December 7, 2012 at 4:45 pm

  22. Thanks for the visit to my blog. Your photography is amazing.

    Many, many years ago I worked on a chicken farm. A co-worker was an old East Indian man that would crouch, unmoving, under a tree every lunchtime. Curiosity got the better of me and one day I asked him if he believed in God. He said that he did. I asked him if he went to church and he looked at me like I was an idiot. He went on to ask me who made places of worship, and I replied: man. He asked me who made the earth, and I replied: our Creator. He then asked me why would man worship in a man-made structure when you could worship under a God-made tree. That has always remained with me.

    As a side note (because of all the above references to Christianity): lets remember that God created all of us, and not just Christians – God didn’t create religion, man did.

    December 12, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    • Thank you for visiting my blog and for taking the time to write me. I am delighted that you enjoy the photographs. I certainly enjoyed your story about your conversation with your friend! And in blogging (and in real life) I have come across people who don’t understand or can’t appreciate (and sometimes judge) another’s call to worship. Many people who go to church don’t understand the longing that others have to worship in nature. And many who worship in nature don’t have or understand the longing to worship in church. I happen to enjoy worship in both venues and find them both important.

      I do believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and I do have a deep respect for all religions. That being said, I think that there is a great deal of liberty taken with many religions today in the ways that it is interpreted and practiced.

      Well, you’ve initiated a lively discussion! Thank you again for visiting. Love and many blessings, Vivian

      December 12, 2012 at 6:06 pm

      • I take my hat off to you Vivian as you seem to be one of the few “Christians” that get the true meaning of living your life as God intended. Whether Jesus is the son of God (which I don’t doubt that he is) is immaterial to me in the big scheme of things. What Jesus said is what is important. And practicing what he preached is even of more importance.

        And I agree with you, some people do manipulate religion for their own benefits – which is why I turned my back on mainstream religions a long time ago. Like I sometimes tell people: we all were created by our Creator, so it is logical to then understand that a part of God is within each of us. And the next time you judge someone, or belittle them, etc., understand that you are disrespecting God. If people could get that thru their heads, I think there would be less war and hate going on in the world – and God would be smiling…finally!

        Sorry, didn’t mean to hijack your blog with my philosophies.

        Continue enjoying Gods creations.

        December 12, 2012 at 8:09 pm

      • You too! I’ve enjoyed our chat Emilio. Hope to see you again. — Viv

        December 12, 2012 at 9:20 pm

  23. I too love the quiet, deserted places. I love the stark Australian outback and for many years looked forward to spending some time travelling it. Sadly, like so many, we left it too late, so that dream is gone.
    I hope to return here when I have more time, to devour your lovely photos.

    December 13, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    • I’m sorry to hear that you did not get to spend as much time as you would have liked in the Australian outback…I would love to see it one day… Thank you so much for visiting and for taking the time to write me. I’m delighted that you enjoy the site. Blessings, Vivian

      December 15, 2012 at 7:59 pm

  24. Yaz

    This is wonderful, and I must say, you are brave. I prefer to let hardship find me! But you’re right, the desert is a journey through parts of the soul that need exploration. What we find there is that which heals.

    January 9, 2013 at 9:18 am

  25. Ah, Vivian, so much depth and texture in your writing and your images.Was Nevada really a scared place before you brought such sanctity to it? Completely meditative and luring journey, the desert and your blog.–M.

    March 11, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    • Dear Melissa, It’s difficult to say which I appreciate more, the eloquence of your comment or the generous content. I greatly admire your writing and you have honored me. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and respond. Warmest regards, Vivian

      March 13, 2013 at 2:50 am

  26. I love this post Vivian and having this brilliant picture to look at bought your words closer. I can understand your sentiments about this place.

    March 13, 2013 at 10:13 am

    • Thank you for visiting, Peter, and for sharing a bit of this journey with us. I know from the narratives you include with your photographs that you too are profoundly impacted by a sense of place, and although the places of which we write are very different, it’s one of the wonders of the internet that we can share in one another’s discoveries, isn’t it? I’m delighted that you enjoyed this! Warmest regards, Vivian

      March 14, 2013 at 5:00 am

  27. Danny

    I love the poetic chiasmus in this entry. We are all so blessed. Thank you.

    December 11, 2013 at 12:17 am

    • How kind of you to visit and leave me such a beautiful note. I too am blessed. Warmly, Vivian

      December 12, 2013 at 2:20 am

  28. A lovely and eloquent description of your spiritual journey-I am so glad to have found my way here-your words inspire!

    January 15, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    • Thank you. I, too, am delighted that our paths have crossed. God always works for our good.

      January 16, 2014 at 3:22 pm

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