Desert, Solitude, Wilderness, Worship


“Life’s trajectory shed all but the desert…not as broken dreams but as the husks of fate and fiercer desires.”

Ellen Meloy, The Anthropology of Turquoise: Reflections on Desert, Sea, Stone and Sky


“…[W]hat can help…man find the answers to his own mystery and the mystery of [H]im in whose image he was created, is silence and solitude–in a word, the desert.

Catherine Doherty, Poustinia: Encountering God in Silence, Solitude and Prayer


“The desert can be a setting for deepened, renewed inner life, but it can as easily be life-threatening. (Hall p.60 It is a place where one cannot hide from one’s own truth.”  (A.G. p.37)

Sister Jeremy Hall, OSB, and Anselm Gruen, OSB, Desert Spirituality — Silence, Solitude, Simplicity


TO THE DESERT by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

I came to you one rainless August night.
You taught me how to live without the rain.
You are thirst and thirst is all I know.
You are sand, wind, sun, and burning sky,
The hottest blue. You blow a breeze and brand
Your breath into my mouth. You reach—then bend  
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
You wrap your name tight around my ribs
And keep me warm. I was born for you.
Above, below, by you, by you surrounded.
I wake to you at dawn. Never break your
Knot. Reach, rise, blow, Sálvame, mi dios,
Trágame, mi tierra. Salva, traga, Break me,
I am bread. I will be the water for your thirst.
Mojave Desert White Cliffs 2

…[T]he monastic “city” established in the desert was no Utopia. Anxieties about health and survival were exacerbated by the tension that arose between monks, as their preoccupations led them to perceive others as competitors for scarce resources. The real grind of monastic life seems not to have been the asceticism, which tends to capture our attention, but the continual effort to be patient and hospitable towards other people. ..  The struggle for kindness, patience, and charity becomes all the more intense when the stakes are so high.”

Columba Stewart, OSB, The Practices of Monastic Prayer: Origins, Evolution and Tensions


“Our praise will bring forth ‘water…in the wilderness and streams in the desert’ (Isa 35:6)…”

L.B. Cowman, Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings


“Obviously such a path could only be traveled by one who was very alert and very sensitive to the landmarks of a trackless wilderness.”

Thomas Merton, The Wisdom of the Desert: Sayings of the Desert Fathers of the Fourth Century


“There is a physical desert, inhabited by a few exceptional men and women who are called to live there; but more importantly, there is an inner desert, into which each one of us must one day venture.”

Frere Ivan


“Inside his desert cave, St. Paul discovered a large hall, open to the sky but protected by the branches of an old palm tree. There was also a spring of clear water he needed for survival.”

Moya K. Mason, Christianity: Its Sojourn in the Desert