Often times we think of the desert as the dry, cracked, ugly wasteland of weathered clay and dust. In storytelling, the desert is usually used as a metaphor for those who need to be healed, who are lost, forgotten, or desperately desire the waters that only heaven can quench their souls with. It’s a fitting metaphor most days, but last week I was reminded of my literary heritage and the love of a great story – a love that had been passed down over the generations. In that reminder, was the beautiful desert; the forgotten desert; the renewing desert. Not the wasteland we usually think of. It was the blooming, life filled valleys and mountains that, instead of showing their color and beauty at all times like a well groomed garden or lush forest, survive, thrive, and weather the storms until the rain comes, showing what lies underneath.
My grandparents have lived in one of the hottest and driest parts of the desert for years. Amazingly enough, no matter how we protested about the blazing sun, they never complained about the heat in a negative way. A few weeks ago, my grandmother, being the southern belle that she is, was happy to answer my question about her life decision as a younger woman with that “lost in memory” look in her eyes. In the wake of my grandfather’s passing, the answer she gave me in her Carolina accent as to “why the desert” when there were two other much cooler places they could have lived, was one of romantic imagination, classic story telling, and a love between my grandparents that weathered the heat of every desert summer they encountered together, knowing the rains would come. Underneath their beautifully weathered, desert exterior were lives that bloomed, seeding the depths of the desert’s underground rivers, never forgetting what the surface looked like when it was covered in lush, rain kissed foliage.
In that moment I was reminded that the blessed rains will always come — and how much I have always adored the hidden beauty of the desert.