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Friday, September 29, 2006

Desert Footprints

Miss Eagle's friend Gerard Guiton has written 'Desert Footprints'. Gerry is a Quaker and a writer. Read here about the launch earlier this year of Gerry's book, The Growth and Development of Quaker Testimony 1652-1661 and 1960-1994, Conflict, Non-Violence and Conciliation. This is the published version of his doctoral thesis. He has been working on a version with a more popular text. Gerry has also been involved during 2005/06 in an international dialogue within the Historic Peace Churches sponsored by the World Council of Churches.


God . . . is the underlying blazing Spirit, that seed of all seeds, wherein lay hidden the world and all its creatures. It is life, speech, mind, reality, immortality. This Entity, that is such, is true; it is the life force.

Mundukya (Mundaka) Upanishad (c700-600 B.C.E.)

It was 1980 when, standing in the centre of the Australian continent, I encountered one of the most spiritual moments of my life. Scanning the far distance with its shimming, intense and brittle heat, I suddenly realised in that solitary microcosmos, the strange Mars-scape all around me, I was connected to something Other.

It was something that gave slight to an inability to contact anyone. It was at once scarey and joyous that hundreds of miles lay between 'civilisation' and me. Here in this parched world with its flat horizon encircling in 360 degrees, the thinnest of edges between vivid ochre and the deepest of blue sky, distance became surreal.

Time, too, was suspended and I found myself breathing a profound silence in what was a vast and open cathedral, a silence broken only by the rare ‘squawk’ of a lone bird flying lazily by. This was a moment of mysterium. I was in God, in Love itself.

It was a mesmerising encounter.

But just as it held me in its sway, something distracted me. A rock began to move! I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was enough to startle me for a split second until I realised, of course!, that the "rock" was a magnificently camouflaged lizard. My new companion scurried swiftly across the sand only to disappear under a nearby boulder. It left little prints in its wake.

The mixture of deep stillness and then this instantaneous, frenetic rush made a sharp contrast and yet I sensed somehow that the lizard, the land and I were singing a kind of hymn to creation, a hymn of completeness.

Only much later did I come to understand a deeper significance to this episode.

So often I take the beauty of the world for granted and I know I would appreciate it and its spirit better if I cared to wander more frequently into my interior desert. Like all deserts, mine is not a barren wilderness but a giant space in which I can discover God again and again. It is also a place where I cannot hide from God, a place of contrast between the truth and what is not true, where delusions are known for what they are. This desert is a constant reminder that God’s bounty knows no horizon, and that, like the little angelos of God's imagining, my friend the lizard, I too can leave footprints - of love and compassion.

Stephen Crisp (1628-92): When I believe that is that Way, then this Belief obligeth [people] to a constant taking heed to their Ways, to their Foot-steps. And here they who are thus exercised, are in a tender Care of every Step they take in their Way.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely post, Miss Eagle.
    It is good to see other people who have been "overwhelmed" by nature, and who then go the extra step, to the Mystery beyond.
    I feel a "Nature of the Desert" blog starting to well up within me.