Borrego Shadows – Desert Spirituality

These photos are from the Anza Borrego Desert State Park near the visitor center. This is one location where I have felt the presence of God stronger than usual. Henri Nouwen writes: “If we enter the deep silence of God’s presence in the desert, we would lose the false self and meet God in our nakedness alone.” Read on below to see more of why the desert is so important in spirituality.

More than Shadows

The shadows on the rock caught my eye as much as the vast panorama that lies beyond. Striking, wrinkled mountains, bright blue sky, are the dramatic images that first present themselves. But those shadows on the rock, those ghosts left by the sun passing through bare branches, were the things that spoke to me that day.

My Story

When I was five years old, preparing for baptism, the minister taught me that God is everywhere. Everywhere. This has been a foundational truth for me all my life. Now, as I learn more about the vastness of space and dark matter, it means even more to me. Even at the microscopic level, God is in between and filling every electron and cell.

Thin Places

It seems like there are times and places, sometimes called “thin places,” where I have been much more aware of God’s presence. That day in the desert was one of those times, and I can still recall the feelings I had. The desert has traditionally been a place to escape the noise of the city, and the demands of modern life. The “Desert Fathers and Mothers” of long ago have contributed much of what we read about spirituality.

Sit and meditate in the desert, or with these photos

Sit with the barrenness – know that there are multitudes of tiny seeds patiently waiting to spring forth and blossom. This year (2024) California had an unprecedented amount of rain, which produced a massive Superbloom in the desert. When you are in a “dry time” in your life, sit with the barrenness and patiently wait for the Superbloom that is to come.


As you contemplate a desert landscape, imagine the abundance that awaits you. Are you feeling barren? Rest in identifying with the scene around you. Are you feeling overwhelmed? Soak up the silence and the vastness of the expanse. Let the silence speak to you. Let the sun warm you and wash away whatever is troubling you.

Holy is Imagination

“Holy is imagination, the gateway of reality into our hearts.” This is one of my favorite quotes, from Thomas R. Kelly, a Quaker thought leader. Think about that – anything that exists was first a thought in a person’s, or God’s mind.

Please share your own thoughts and imaginings here: