Desert Fire

“When we were talking about directions, and got to South, I was drawn to the word warmth. It was the most I had to write about and made me remember that the heat is what stokes my fire. The south, the southwest and their heat and sun help me maintain my fire. And I think I have been questioning why I live in Tucson lately, but it reminded me that there is a reason,” I said out loud to the five women surrounding my in a circle, legs crossed, on the floor, candles burning in front of us.

I felt compelled to share my strong feelings associated with the word South as other people shared their experiences with passed family members visiting and whatever had resonated with them. At first I thought it was because the message needed to be shared with others but I realized it was simply for me to hear myself say it out loud. I didn’t realize what was going to come out when I opened my mouth but that’s what did and it made me smile – it was a comforting reminder despite the harsh landscape of my new home.

This trip to the mitten was wonderful. It was everything I needed – water, kayaks with my sissy, dinners with my family, trees – lots and lots of trees – time to sit on the deck, to see my cousins and grandma, to go on runs through the crisp almost fall air. To pretend for just a moment that this was my everyday reality. And it made me question why I live so far away in the dry, dusty, mostly treeless Sonoran desert. It was so COMFORTABLE to be there, so safe. Like I was wrapped up in a warm sweater and curled up on the couch with my best supports next to me. And I really actually was. But, there is something that still compels me to be here. Maybe it’s simply for my personal healing (which isn’t always a simple matter after all).

I was talking a friend a few weeks ago and he asked me why I am here. You don’t always love your job, you’re far from your family, etc. he reminded me.

I said, “I know, but I really like Tucson.” He argued that that was not enough of a reason to be somewhere. But as I spoke out loud during the healing circle, apparently it is. The south and the southwest beckon me with their vast, unique beauty, with their harsh and unforgiving climate.

As Terry Tempest Williams writes in her book Refuge, “If the desert is holy, it is because it is a forgotten place that allows us to remember the sacred. Perhaps that is why every pilgrimage to the desert is a pilgrimage to the self. There is no place to hide, and so we are found,” (pg. 148).

The warmth of the South stokes my inner fire. It is here I must build my fire until it is strong and fierce and can withstand the cold.


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