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.