Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hope in the desert

One of the smaller outposts that SFC McG and I visit is a place completely devoid of trees and bushes. The only plant life consists of some small weeds, and only when there's been some rain and it's not too hot.

It was a delight to be back home during R&R in January, in part because there were hills and the hills were green. There were trees all over the place. Given that I was in California, there were even flowers blooming outside, despite it being the dead of winter.

On the other hand, everything in this part of this country is stultifyingly flat. Where I live (and most of the places I visit on my trips outside the wire) everything is monochromatic grays, or maybe browns, if I'm lucky.

To be fair, there is at least water near where I live, and during the winter and spring there can be lots of green, tall grasses along the water's edge. There are even quite a number of lakes over on another part of Post, and a lot more vegetation. (Probably not a surprise that that's where the 'important' people are!) One of the chapels where I'm saying Mass on Saturday evenings these days forms its own peninsula in one of those lakes, and last weekend the sun set -- rather spectacularly -- over the water as we conducted the liturgy.

That was lovely, if a bit distracting.

I'm not sure why green and growing things have always fed my spirit, but they have, from childhood (which has actually continued for almost 53 years now, others are eager to point out to me; the bad news I guess is that I'll not get the chance to have a "second childhood" as there will have been only one...). When I see lush plant life, I smile. Surrounded by plants in the greenhouse Dad built me when I was young, I felt hopeful and safe.

Perhaps that's one reason why I love photographing flowers so much.

In any event, it will be good to leave this desert and get home in a few weeks, if all goes well!

Last month I was at the aforementioned vegetation-challenged outpost shortly after we'd had several days of rain (perhaps the last I'll see during my time here). The temperature was in the 30s (Celsius) that day (40 degrees Celsius = 104 degrees Fahrenheit), so it was actually quite humid. That hasn't happened all that often since I've been here; it's usually arid.

I noticed that someone had evidently dug up one of the wild geraniums that had appeared, and had transplanted it into a makeshift flower pot. I suspect that Soldier, like me, found the apparent lifelessness of the place to be a bit oppressive. The little plant had flowered, but by the time I arrived, it was struggling against its confinement, or at least against summer's onslaught.

The audacity of hope.

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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