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Thanksgiving – Desert

As an exercise in almsgiving over the next 40 days, this webpage will joyfully give up its praise and thanks for one aspect of life, and not always necessarily a religious one.

The desert is an ocean in which no oar is dipped…


Deserts are polarising places. Many people fear or loathe them. Others, definitely in the minority, are drawn to them as a setting in which to challenge or awaken the spirit. In this current liturgical season of Lent, which is modelled on the temptation of Christ in the desert – Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted[a] by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” (Matthew 4: 1-11) – we are encouraged to leave our own comfort zones and bolster our faith in the lead up to Easter. Granted, a desert visit may not be practical in the remaining weeks of Lent, but one should never rule out visiting and enjoying such a harsh place.

There is no doubt arid landscapes can test an individual spiritually, but it can also reward us physically and mentally if we prepare for its rigours sensibly and work in harmony with its physical constraints. Take as an example the resourceful people of Coober Pedy, who have made the town habitable by burrowing in and making their homes underground. Or the seasoned travellers of the Sahara who limit themselves only to early morning travel before seeking whatever shade they can in the midday sun. That’s the thing about the desert; by reducing life to the essentials necessary to survive, one can emerge purified and with a better perspective on our priorities.

For those travellers who do balance the dangers of a desert trip, the rewards are incredible. The rough hewn beauty of Jordan’s Wadi Rum Desert, Chile’s Atacama or Australia’s own Simpson Desert is hard to surpass. Add to this is the potential for new life to flourish within hours of flooding rains and the desert’s versatility is only further highlighted. Due to our own recent summer rains, the interior of Australia is once again blooming with wildflowers and birdlife in abundance. It’s a sign that God always replenishes the earth and even the most forsaken of lands can experience a rapid turnaround and rebirth within a short space of time. In the midst of the searing heat, self-inflicted, which the Church currently finds itself with respect to the McClellan Royal Commission, the fact new life can emerge again from such a scorched landscape is hope to hold onto.

For the deserts we do have, and it is ample, we remain thankful for what they can teach us about finding a hidden beauty beyond the surface and being at peace in the silence of wide open spaces in which we are only a small speck.

Previous thanksgiving article: The voice

The season of Lent asks of us for sacrifice and the foregoing of many things, but an attitude of joy and gratitude should not be amongst them.

As an exercise in almsgiving over the next 40 days, this webpage will joyfully give up its praise and thanks for one aspect of life, and not always necessarily a religious one.

At the outset it should be made clear the viewpoints expressed here are a matter of individual opinion. If any one item doesn’t coincide with your own personal tastes then why not seek to better it with some thanksgiving of your own rather than a critique? You are always welcome to do so at the Archdiocesan website feedback mechanism.

So we invite you to come, walk with us awhile, and be thankful as we journey together to Calvary and beyond to Easter.

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