Monday, July 16, 2007

In the desert

The Chihuahuan Desert is a thorny, sun-bleached, jagged terrain. But when it gets rain, the desert blooms with colors few ever see.

Last week-end, I thought it might be a chance to see some of those day-glo blossoms, and so we hit the highway to West Texas.

At the bottom of Modesta Canyon is a spring, and it’s usually the only water around. But this time, a small stream gurgled along the entire length of the canyon. So, we hiked that desert trail with the sound of water as a backdrop.

I couldn’t help but ponder the beautiful incongruity of that water-sound in the midst of the stark desert stillness.

Banished from the faith community of my youth, I feel as though I escaped into faith’s dry badlands. It’s a sparse and rough terrain, but it’s also void of all the power structures, polity, pontifications, and pompous Bible-thumping.

Some days, I think my faith is so sparse that there is simply nothing left. It dried up and withered away amidst the blasphemous abuse and the continued callous blindness, self-serving ignorance, and small-minded meanness of so many Southern Baptist men.

But then comes the sound of water, and I hearken to the pure, incongruous beauty of it. Perhaps what remains for me is a faith that blooms in the desert, where the sparseness itself holds sanctuary.

From what I’ve seen, if Southern Baptist leaders are exemplary of how “men of God” behave, then theirs is surely a God that I want no part of. I will find my God in faith’s badlands, amidst the ocotillos and the javelinas.

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