As I write on a slightly rickety table beside the snack cart, I’m enjoying the shade and moving shadows of a tall tree. The same waving branches that are making patterns on these pages recently hosted a rock pigeon, but it has flown away.
I’m taking a rest after almost two hours of desert trail-walking. Funny how the landscape didn’t really reach me at first, but before long I lost my heart to its wildflowers, lizards, hummingbirds, and flowering cathedral cacti.
As I made my way along the Desert Wildflower trail, the Desert Discovery Loop, and the Steele Herb Garden, fragments of lectures and conversations shimmered briefly, the fluttering of unseen wings in the leaves.
“Would you like a picture of this cactus for your power point presentation?” (Father to his young son)
In the Desert Garden, I saw a multitude of memorials on benches, chairs, fountains, trees, and walls. There were even memorial drinking fountains (a lovely idea). However, I was looking for a special one, a plaque in memory of a Toronto friend’s beloved parents. And when I finally found it, I felt connected to my friend’s family and their shared memories of the Garden. It didn’t seem to matter that I never met them. They had walked these paths before and enjoyed the beauty that I was seeing.
I studied the plaque for a long time, growing sad and thoughtful. But the more I reflected on the inevitability of loss, the more I felt strangely comforted at the thought of all the people who will visit this gorgeous sanctuary long after I have had my mortal turn. The Desert Garden is an embodiment of faith, for in this place, love, memories, and the creative earth continue to flower and flower, tapping deep roots of Beauty that do not die.