Thursday, February 08, 2007

Death in the Desert

Gasping his last agonizing desperate breath,
He faltered and fell headlong in the burning sand,
Powerless arms outstretched
to reach the impossible goal.
Defeat his dying thought, as the last echo of life
faded from his mind.

A bright new awareness gradually flooded in,
Filling his whole being with pure white light.
Stumbling to his feet, finding himself encircled
By those he strove ceaselessly to serve in mortality,
Now joined forever by unbreakable bonds
Of eternal love and joy.
I'm never absolutely sure I can tell the difference between imaginative impressions and real people.

I spent some time during March and April wandering around the hot sands of the San Rafael desert in central Utah. Probably hallucinating some of the time. One of my recurring visions there was of a ghostly train of pioneers coming upon the San Rafael River after crossing 200 miles of waterless, trackless wasteland from Grand Junction. They came to the edge of the river canyon and gazed forlornly down at the sparkling blue trace of water meandering at the bottom, a thousand feet down sheer sandstone, with no safe way to descend. No water for the faltering stock, or for the crying children. Nothing to wet your mouth after enduring days of aching thirst.

Collapse and death in the burning sand must have been a very real threat.

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