Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Creatures I Have Encountered in the Desert

I was discussing a retreat with a very dear friend when my thoughts encountered that part of my memory that stores the retreat center overlooking Tucson, Arizona. That is where I spent a couple of weeks about 13 years ago when I worked on certification as an Intentional Interim Minister. I have mentioned the center and my stay there a couple of times, but I haven't shared there stories about non-human creatures that I encountered.


Because of the time difference between Tucson and Louisville, I was awake well before sunrise.  I'd rise and go outside into the "desert" where I would sit on a stone bench, meditate, and watch the sunrise. The first day, just as the sun began to rise over the desert,  I noticed an eagle soaring very high above me, the new light reflecting off of its feathers.

Each morning I was blessed with the eagle's company. At some point my mediation began to merge with the eagle's ascending and circling glide. I flew with the eagle, seeing the earth through the peerless eyes of that marvelous bird. It was then that I was captured by the spirit of the eagle. The eagle has become part of my spirit--or, perhaps I have merged into the soaring spirit of the eagle.


One morning when I came out of my room, I found myself looking at an addition to the desert: a huge male buffalo! He didn't move; he just stood there. We did approach him; we stood on the sidewalk beyond which was the desert and the bison, awed my its magnificence and size.

We were transfixed by the huge beast! But then our instructors chased us into the dining hall for worship, breakfast, and classes. It was during the latter than we heard the beginning of commotion outside.We surged out of the building to our sidewalk beside the desert. The buffalo had not moved since we last saw it; but a truck had arrived to take that magnificent creature home, a dude ranch a mile or so away. from which the buffalo had wandered.

The buffalo, too, impacted my psyche. Being so close to that august creature gave me a cognitive and spiritual perception of the place Tatonka holds in the spirituality of Native Americans that all of my reading could never have provided. Like the eagle, the buffalo has become at one with my spirit

Representations of eagles have dominated the various headers I have used on Nick's Bytes.

Representations of eagles dominate the walls of my home.

This is one of the concret benches from which I watched the sunrise. At the retreat center, one stepped off the sidewalk and immediately entered the desert.

The buffalo stood in the desert a few yards off the sidewalk for hours, just as the bison in this painting.


  1. You give, Rev. Ssint, two excellent reason to listen to me and move from that hoo-rendous valley where breathing is so difficult to Ariz7ypona where breathing is easy.

  2. Experiences like these are so beautiful and they stay in our bodies and souls forever.

    What wondrous gifts!

  3. I have never seen a libe buffalo. Are they really as gigantic as I have heard?

  4. Azsonofagun: You know, Rex, there have been times when I regret that I didn't move to the desert back when I had the strength and mobility.

  5. Akelamalu: Yes, they are. These photos bring back memories of a happier time. I wish I had the rest, but they were "borrowed" many years ago and never returned. SIGH.

  6. Carol: Yes, you are very right. There are times when I think about the desert that I can almost smell the desert air, which is so much cleaner than the air in this city.

  7. Fiochra: The one in my story was huge! I know that if I had stood beside it, it's shoulder would have been taller than my head.

  8. Lovely photos, Nick, it sounds a beautiful place.