“What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.”

   — Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The desert can be a beautiful place.  I’ve never experienced an actual desert, except through pictures; but still I think that my soul understands the desert.  It is a place of few distractions, a place without crowds, a place to find the solitude that returns us to the very core of being and reminds us of who we are.  I have spent significant time in the desert of my soul for the past two years; and at last, I think it is time to return from my solitude.

Some friends have been nudging me recently, asking when I would start writing again. I have had no answers for them.  Even as I put words to paper this morning, on the occasion of my sixty-sixth birthday, I make no promises, except to be authentically myself and only to write what has meaning for me.

In the past two years, it seems as though everything has changed. My parents are no longer with me; and the time I once devoted to checking in with them and making sure we stayed connected now stands empty. My last child has flown from the nest, and all those years of active parenting are done, leaving a vast chasm between my old life and my new one. I have celebrated successes, suffered losses, laughed, cried, grieved and wandered through the desert of my soul. And I have discovered many wells.

When we wander through the desert, and the sun beats down relentlessly, our only hope of survival is to find some shade, crawl inside, and be still until the cool evening breeze brings relief. If we are lucky, we discover the oasis that dwells in our own being – the one that sustains us, defines us, and restores us when life seems harsh and challenging. When we drink from our own well, we are reminded that who we are is much more than what we do.

There are other wells in the desert. Some wells flow with the memories of surviving difficult times. Some nourish us with memories of celebration and joy. Some refresh us with the stories of courage and wisdom and strength that others have told us – and that we have written for ourselves as we walk through life.

Today, as I begin my sixty-seventh year on Earth, I celebrate the desert and the perspective it offers. More than that, I celebrate the wells; because they are what makes the desert beautiful. And I celebrate the family, the friends – the old and the young – whose wells are the stopping places that nourish my soul. I celebrate the river that flows deep underground and connects us all as we journey through life.

I have been to the desert; and it is a beautiful place, because at every turn, just when it is needed, it hides a well.