Nevada Desert View: Solitude

Nevada desert view of Black Rock

With the passing of 2012, I am filled with gratitude for the beautiful sights and experiences the Nevada desert held last year for my husband and me.  Many thanks to all of our readers who in shared that journey with us–and to those of you have just arrived, welcome.  I have been touched by all of your comments and often reflect on them.  I am moved to address several exchanges pertaining to the natural world as a venue or vehicle for solitary worship.  There is diversity among those comments, with a portion of readers strongly inclined to worship alone in the wilderness to the exclusion of formal venues.  Others have remarked that they are drawn to both wild and formally ordained venues–but that not all those with whom they fellowship in the latter approve of their relationship with the former.  Over the years, my husband and I have met with some less than gracious responses to our eremitical lifestyle from members of our church, so we understand.

Raven’s Bread Hermit Ministries: Food for those in Solitude

Yet solitude is–commonly or occasionally–a component of worship for many devotees and in this sometimes harried world, can be useful in alleviating stimuli which interfere with our ability to seek and know God.  My husband and I are eremitical travelers, a life to which we are called.  We are blessed to embrace solitary worship at home and in the wilderness, most often the Nevada desert.  But sometimes I find myself driftng toward worldly concerns and, at those times, I find inspiration in scripture and in the words and works of fellow pilgrims.

Another source of encouragement for me is the newsletter published each quarter by Raven’s Bread Ministries.  Raven’s Bread Ministries provides a venue for hermits and others drawn to solitude to share insights and experiences with regard to lifestyle and worship.  Whether or not you eremitically inclined, I suggest a visit to the Raven’s Bread for a lovely respite.

At its best, solitude brings with it desired aloneness but not loneliness.  The aloneness begets a certain emptiness which leads to silence.  Silence stills a listening heart in order to be penetrated by the Word of God.  Simplicity empties oneself of distractions and separates one from worldly cares.  With solitude, silence and simplicity, peace and unexpected joy follows when it is lived intentionally in the presence of God.  — Raven’s Bread: Food for Those in Solitude; November 2012  “Thoughts in Solitude”

One of the greatest challenges my husband and I faced in 2012 was the near-disintegration of our church, a church we have attended faithfully (when not traveling) for nearly 10 years.  An act of nepotism on the part of one of our trusted church leaders produced chaos in our congregation and among the other leaders.  That leader has been recognized and respected–not only in our church but throughout the world–for his life of ministry.  He has created models for serving many of the broken among us: addicts, alcoholics, the mentally ill, the homeless.  Because of his profound service, when he announced that he was installing his son as our new pastor and stepping down to a lessor role, the congregation and leaders were accepting of the change–until it became apparent to everyone but him that his son was not a fit for the position; thus the unraveling began.

My husband and I were traveling often during that period, deep into the Nevada desert wilderness.  There we found a sanctuary which was wholly steeped in the presence of God.  In the vistas we witnessed the vastness of His kingdom.  In the elements we felt the power of His will.  Often we drove for days in complete solitude.  We camped in Unionville and on the edge of Black Rock Desert.  We were blessed to see mustangs, moonrises, shooting stars, and sunsets like gardens drawn across the sky

When we returned to our church we were filled with peace.  And able to accept that our beloved pastor, a man who had served God for his entire life, had simply succumbed to a lapse in judgement, wanting the best for his son.  But not everyone agreed or was willing to forgive.  Our church shrunk to a quarter of its former size.  Of the members besides us who remained, many were bereft and accusatory.

Ironically, my husband and I discovered that the intimate relationships we had forged with God through our Nevada desert travels seemed to help us resist the disorienting effects of the upheavals.  For that, we were grateful and hope any of you who are experiencing conflicts as a result of your worship choices, will take heart.

As we eagerly look to the new year, we are filled with anticipation for the beauty and blessings it will bring.  We look forward to sharing them with you and to learning the good news of yours.

Love and Blessings for 2013,

Vivian

35 thoughts on “Nevada Desert View: Solitude

  1. What a beautiful photo. And for me, eremitic is a new word, but one that resonates with me. I don’t (won’t) belong to any organized religion, but I see so many similarities in our beliefs. And I find such beauty and serenity in your photos. Thank you so much for sharing the photos and yourself. Here’s to a wonderful new year.
    Donna

    • Dear Donna, Thank you for such an encouraging comment. I’m delighted that you enjoy this photograph and the others. Your photographs also appeal to me and I sense that we share similar proclivities in our relationship with the desert.

      I too was unfamiliar with the term eremitical until a couple of years ago when, during a bout of insomnia, I saw on television an advertisement for Raven’s Bread Ministries. It was upon looking into Raven’s Bread that I realized that my life-long practice of solitary worship could be examined in the context of the lives of others who respond to such a calling.

      Wishing you a wonderful new year, too, Donna. Vivian

  2. This is a very beautiful image Vivian. I’m looking forward to many more beautiful posts in 2013. I hope that the wounds in your church heal in the coming year. I have been unable to find God through organised religion. Probably for reasons similar to those that caused the problem in your church. Organisations run by people with egos who lust after power are while claiming to do God’s work are not organisations I want to be a part of. Why the conflict between religions when there is one God, it’s because of the reasons I just mentioned. It’s no different to companies fighting for market share as far as I can see and they really do get to play very dirty indeed to ensure they are No. 1. If I am to find God it will be out in the wilderness somewhere. I won’t need a book full of contradiction that people use to justify their personal bigotry and hatred, using it to judge and condemn. I’m pretty sure the God I hope to find does not do that. It will be a meeting between Him and me we will see where that goes if it ever happens. I envy you your lifestyle and faith Viv. My very best wishes to you.:-)

    • Dear Chillbrook, Thank you for the compliment on this image, your forthright response to this post, and your healing wishes for our church. I apologize for the lapse in my response but I wanted to have a moment of quietude when writing to you. I cannot say that, in the past, I have not shared the lens through which you are viewing the church and the other organizations to which you refer. There are moments even now when it is difficult for me not to have such a response to the greed and depravity consuming this world like wildfire on sagebrush. (An example of that would be the tragic inhumanity my government is inflicting on mustangs or the recent gangrape of the young woman in India.) However, what I have discovered through my relationship with God is that the difference between viewing this life through the lens of faith–or not–is the difference (for me) between hope and despair. Moreover, the more profoundly I focus on faith, the more tenable my relationship with God and the more i am able to effect hope, encouragement, mercy and forgiveness. You are absolutely correct, faith is to be cherished. If I have one prayer, it is that I will view this world through the lens of faith for as long as I live. Perhaps one day when you are at the beach, poised to take a photograph and peering through your lens, you will find God peering back. 🙂 For now, please accept my warmest wishes and expression of delight for the opportunity to get to know you better. Vivian

  3. A beautiful image that appeals to my heart. Thank you, Vivian. I have a deep yearning within me to be “wholly steeped in the presence of God.” I love your simple lifestyle. And you are blessed to have someone in your life that shares your love of the desert and of solitude. I spend much time alone in solitude and silence, and I love to walk in nature. It feeds my spirit. I feel the touch of the Divine. Love and blessings.

    • Dearest Lizzie, I sometimes think of you when I am traveling in the Nevada desert or puttering about at home. I remember your courage and your kindness and am moved by them. Although we are in far away lands, we seek the same Spirit. Thank you for your lovely comment and God bless you on your journey. Love, Vivian

  4. Great post, Vivian. It is sad that at times people in the church act immaturely, selfishly, and pridefully. We are told “not to forsake meeting together” so giving up on the church is not an option. Just as in a family, we have times when we need to forgive one another, love one another… so, too in the church. It’s unfortunate that some choose to bail out instead of loving and forgiving, as Jesus taught us to do. We often forget that we’ve been forgiven by the Father …and Jesus’ prayer, “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” should be a reminder that we must love one another. After all, Jesus said that “they will know you are my disciples if you have love one for another.”

    • Dear Daisy, Thank you for your beautiful response to this post. You have echoed the conversations my husband and I had when reflecting on these events and the scriptures which influenced our decision to remain with our church. Vivian

  5. Vivian, I don’t think it is ironic at all that your desert solitaire girded you up to face such challenges upon your return. I had a similar experience in our small worship group which is now all but defunct alas.
    As far as the formal or informal places of worship are concerned, I’ve always been drawn to the natural, but do not disdain the more formal and even find beauty in some of the most elaborate houses of worship…I think we will find Spirit wherever we look so long as we look with our hearts as you have done.
    I have really enjoyed what you share here in your blog and I look forward to more in the coming year. When we each do our part, whatever that may be, we are participating in healing of the world…even if it looks to some [externally] as if we have retreated from the world. Sometimes I think the whole of creation is being held together- kept from unraveling- by the hermits who take to the wild and the old church women with their rosary or dog-eared hymnal. Simplicity.
    Blessings for your coming year.
    *anna

    • Dear Anna, What a joy to read your tender and insightful comment. I’m always delighted to hear from you. I’m sorry to learn that your worship group faded under trying circumstances; the opportunity to worhsip with others, when one is so inclined, can be such a comfort. I, too, appreciate formal places of worship, including some of great beauty, although the place where my husband and I attend church now is as humble a House of God as you will ever find. My husband is of the mind that humility must be a fundamental component of any church he will attend–much for the same reasons that some of our readers disdain the church altogether, associating it with corrupt motives and abuse of power.

      So much of what is being projected in our external world is lifeless or destructive. I share your view that prayer submitted in solitude effects healing. Nothing is concealed to the eyes and ears of God.

      Love and many blessings, Vivian

  6. Having lived in the desert for a few years (Coachella Valley, CA), I understand what you mean about the desert’s ability to help bring one closer to the divine. Warm wishes for a 2013 filled with joy.

  7. That’s beautiful pic which symbolizes continued journey. Your posts are always such a treat, with a blend of beauty (which your gorgeous pics deliver) and meaning. No wonder, yours is the very first blog that I decided to stop by after being back from my social hibernation today. While I’m here, I wish you, uncle, your son & your furred friends (hope I haven’t missed any), a very happy new year! Let’s continue our journey together, again! 🙂

    • Dear Teju, Welcome back!! I am so deeply honored that mine is the first blog you have visited upon your return. Your kind words in both your comments have brought tears of joy to my eyes. I am delighted at the prospect of continuing this journey with you in 2013. My warmest wishes to you and yours for a wonderful and blessed New Year. Love and hugs, Vivian 🙂

      • Thank you so much for the delightful wish. I’d consider it my honor to be in your company and to be able journey alongside you! I’ve formed this unexplainable bond with you which only strengthens with each passing day. It’s so nice to be back in touch again, with someone whom I adore immensely & hold in high regards 🙂

  8. What a lovely piece Vivian. I don’t worship in the same way as you do; I don’t do anything in a formalized way, but the point is, we are on the same mountain, but just with different ways of getting up there. I love what you have to say, and your photos are just lovely.

    • Thank you for visiting and for leaving me such a nice note Yaz. I’m delighted that you enjoy the site. I look forward to following your blog and getting to know you better through your posts. 🙂 Vivian

    • I am so sorry that your church went through a similar trial and heartbreak. It was very sobering to see a man as pious as our pastor make such a mistake and take such a fall. We are all vulernable and we must all be vigilent. If we are merciful and forgive and help one another return to the path, God will forgive us, too, and gather us closer.

      Thanks for visiting. I’m delighted to make your acquaintance. Vivian

  9. What a beautiful posting. I believe you can worship wherever you are – you do not need a formal church setting. We went hiking in NH and it was a spiritual time because you become one with nature and God. It can be hard to put into words but I believe you understand what I mean.

    • Hi Bernice, Thank you for leaving me such a lovely note. I’m delighted that you enjoyed this piece on worship and solitude. I grew up in Maine and in my youth often visited New Hampshire. It is a beautiful place in which to commune with God! Warm regards, Vivian

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