q Lent VIII - Eileen Campbell-Reed
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Death Valley in bloom

Sunshine and Rain

I’ve been out walking in sunshine this late afternoon. And just breathing it all in. This week’s Hebrew Bible text from Isaiah 43 reminded me of a short meditation I wrote five years ago after the “hundred year rain” fell in Death Valley and Joshua Tree, California. Today’s temperatures in the Twin Cities and the blue skies also reminded me of that amazing trip we took during Holy Week 2005.

Isaiah 43:19 I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Driving along one day I heard a story on the radio. Rain. Lots of rain . . . in the desert of all places. In a normal year the rainfall is less than two inches. Since July, the reporter said, over six inches of rain have fallen in Death Valley.

Rain in Death Valley? Impossible, I thought. That place looks like another planet: nothing green, only rocks and sand and swirling dirt. Not one living thing in sight. Even “Bad Water,” 282 feet below sea level, is nothing but a puddle of brackish sludge.

The reporter went on. This spring he said, is the wettest season on record. The desert is in full bloom. We’re seeing plants that have never been seen before. The park may only blossom like this once every 100 years.

My mind kicked into overdrive. I picked up my cell phone and dialed. “Honey, I’ve had a brainstorm,” I said to my husband. “The desert is blooming. We should go. Soon! It’s a once in a lifetime kind of trip.”

By suppertime we had rearranged schedules, taken time off work, and purchased airline tickets. We were spending Holy Week in the desert. The trip was amazing. The beauty and majesty overwhelmed us. Every one of the 498 pictures* we made is worth at least a 1000 words.

Sometimes the grace of God comes like this – in surprising, impossible, once-in-a-lifetime ways. When grace falls into the barren and deserted valleys of life, we must go and see its bloom.

God, may the beauty of your grace transform in us even in the empty and barren spaces of our lives.

  • none of these pictures are currently within my reach – ironically. I’ll try to post one when I return home.