Desert Meditations: Navigation

In the desert it is easy to become life-threateningly lost.  Experts on desert navigation recommend keeping a trip journal, detailing the locations of distinct plants, markings, structures or formations, particularly near significant trailheads or roads–because no matter how accurate at the onset an atlas, GPS, compass or odometer, technology fails, maps prove vague, and the desert is visually disorienting and navigationally daunting due to God’s repeats–stylized, rhythmic duplications of a single image: rock, sagebrush, trail, plain, range.  In the desert, repeats occur endlessly, so much so, that it is difficult to identify what qualifies as a distinguishing feature: what stands out to such an extent that it will not be overlooked on the return, approaching from a different perspective, when the once seemingly definitive sign is nothing more than a speck in a sea of brown, or blue, or white if the sky has flooded with clouds that descend to the earth where the light dims and dust-filled winds blur forms?  In the desert the lure of God’s repeats, as constant as the sunrise and as new but also deceptively familiar, demands vigilence, lest complacency imperil us.

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