October. The month of the dead and the dying.
As I shuffle through the arroyo, I keep dropping to my knees. An onlooker might mistake me for a pilgrim making my painful way to Lourdes. But the healing I seek cannot be found at some distant, holy shrine. It is here in the dust at my feet: palo verde twigs snapped off by windstorms; brown clumps of parched grasses; and small stones quickly losing their warmth as the daylight fades.
I pause before some tattered sunflowers, bleached and bitten by the unforgiving desert sun, to quench my thirst. Words from a letter written long ago come to mind: “God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are…” (1 Corinthians 1:28, Revised Standard Version).
Low and despised is nature’s detritus in the wilderness, but it heals my battered spirit as I kneel in awe and wonder before it.
While three crows argue,
I gulp tea from my thermos—
autumn’s first chill wind.
An autumn-hued cottonwood leaf in summer, Riverside County, California.
A car’s side mirror reflects autumn colors, Inyo National Forest near Bishop, California
Animas River near Cedar Hill, San Juan County, New Mexico
Robert J. Moody Demonstration Garden, Yuma, Arizona