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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Desert Journal - Entry 1

Brothers of the monastery,

Revelation of the Ocotillo

When Zophar the Naamathite asked Job: "Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?" What Zophar didn't understand was that Job could find nothing in and my himself -- God found and chose Job and through Job the deeper things of God were revealed. Thus, today the Ocotillo found me!

Yes brothers, I broke the monastery's first rule: travel not alone in darkness in the land of scorpions and serpents. And it was in my desert wanderings that the darkness set and I broke the rule and continued my march. But not long did I march, for with the heavenly milky way above as my only guide and a full moon as my illumination, a mighty ocotillo halted my march. And as we all know dear brothers, in all truth, it is God's nature to be self-revealing -- in the moonlight I wrestled with the spiny arms of the mighty ocotillo, but those arms held me tight until the first dawn of mornings light -- then with many scratches and a tatter of a robe, I was released.

And what is this mighty ocotillo? For you brothers who have not ventured into the desert climes, the ocotillo as it first appears looks to be a bare and dead shrub, very tall indeed, and devoid of life or leaf. Many lengthy spiny woody spears shoot from the sandy earth -- ten, fifteen feet high -- and covering each of these woody spears are cacti-like thorns, each enough to make one a believer -- and last night I indeed became a believer.

But the mighty ocotillo is much more than this. For when the spring rains come to the desert, the dry and barren ocotillo suddenly comes alive, for covering each and every spear are clusters of tiny green leaves. And in the desert breeze these tiny leaves shimmer like spangles on the dress of some ancient Babylonian queen. Not only shimmer, but they bring life and sustenance back to the emaciated body that has endured for months in the searing desert heat. And soon again the tiny leaves will drop and fall, and a searing wind will scatter them to the four corners of this arid landscape, but their deeds will have been done, for with renewed vigor and strength the mighty ocotillo will once again be able to withstand the onslaught of the cyclical inferno.

So dear brothers, remember, God reaches out to us in the most unexpected of ways (and I do advise wearing a pith helmet at all times!). And by its very nature, revelation is by divine initiative; God is revealed to us because God has chosen to make it so. All of our efforts to quest revelation are futile, for God is the mighty ocotillo that looms unnoticed in the barren land, unnoticed that is until one runs smack into Him in the dead of the night. (And I pray God will forgive me for the squall of oaths that broke His most tranquil of nights.)

Shalom,
Brother Bartleby

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