“The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, Even with joy and singing… They shall see the glory of the Lord, The excellency of our God.” (Isaiah 35:1-2)
Often the desert is thought of as a lifeless and barren wasteland, with little, if any, redeeming value. Yet it can flourish with amazing floral displays and teeming animal populations when nourished with a little moisture. Similarly, our lives are like a desolate wilderness in darkness until we receive the Gospel. Then, suddenly, we have a great and joyful light that allows us to blossom and produce fruit for the Christ’s kingdom. When we ask Jesus to enter our heart and direct our life, His grace makes our soul, which was a barren wilderness, rejoice in joy.
Last month I had the opportunity to travel through southern Utah and northern Arizona, catching the desert alive with cactus blossoms and an abundance of of bird activity. Having spent very little time in the desert southwest, combined with my aversion to hot climates, my mental picture of the desert country has always made it out to be a bleak and uninviting place – certainly not a place I would have put high on a list of places I’d want to tour. But after a very short business meeting brought me there last November, I saw very intriguing landscapes and wildlife I had never before seen. So when another business trip last month had me returning to the same area, I arranged to spend a few extra days in the area and investigate the region a little with a camera. All totaled, I had about a day and a half of “extra” time in the Phoenix area, so I split it up between the Tonto National Forest/Saguaro Lake, the Desert Botanical Garden, and the Gilbert Riparian Preserve. Each of these places offered a great diversity of God’s creations to enjoy and photograph, and His timing for my visit couldn’t have been better – the weather was mild, plants were blooming and the birds were active. Below are a few images from the trip.
For a larger collection, including shots taken on the rest of the trip through Idaho, Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park and Yellowstone National Park, make sure to visit The Rejoicing Desert gallery. There you will find images of the desert landscape and plants, a few reptiles and amphibians, and a bunch of birds, including: White Winged Dove, Curve Billed Thrasher, Canyon Towhee, Verdin, Gambel’s Quail, Hummingbird, Gila Woodpecker, Great Egret, Green Heron, Yellow Headed Blackbird, European Starling, American White Pelican, Long Billed Dowitcher, Harrier and possibly a few others.