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Deserts and Journeys

Updated: Aug 26, 2019

About a year ago I started writing on the electronic pages of this blog with stars in my eyes. It felt like someone had opened a tap and words just came pouring out. I fell in love with words at a very young age. Translating feelings and sensations into written words is a seriously underrated art form… Sadly, it takes time. The past few months "Usain Bolted" their way past me, and kind of left me awkwardly coughing in the dust. So much has happened. So much has changed. I have changed. For the better. I hope.

Last year I had the privilege to travel to Namibia, the home of the oldest desert on planet earth. I have visited Namibia a few years in a row, and fell completely in love with the country. There’s something about living in a desert that produces the warmest people I have encountered in a while. Even though I’ve been there a few times, I’ve never ventured out of Windhoek. Last year was different. I received the news late August 2017 that our team would be hitting the road through Namibia. Visiting the landmarks and hunting down stories of hope. What!? All expenses paid road trip through a land of extreme contrasts? Sure!

Namibia’s name translates to “The land God made in anger”, and looking down from the aeroplane window, you’ll agree. But as soon as your feet touch the ground, you are greeted with an atmosphere that invites you to take a deeper look.

Driving through this country feels like visiting another planet. I remember thinking “Hmm… This looks a lot like the South African bush veld”. It didn’t take long for the trees to subside. The road lead us to a paradise of nothingness. You could see for kilometres on end. Nothing. Snow white sand met crisp blue air all around. The landscape transformed from white sand, to black sand, to red sand. Veld, to rocks, to desert. It looked like something out of a film. Surreal.

One day we had a little time after capturing a story, and our guides kind of forced us to climb dune seven. Now, dune seven is a majestic pile of desert sand just outside Walvis Bay. It is the highest dune in Namibia, measured at over 383 meters. A beautiful disaster, and my own personal Everest. I mean, sure, 383 meters couldn’t be all that bad, could it? I untied my shoes and buried my feet in the mild desert sand. "Let’s do this!”

Now, in life you get two kinds of people. You get those who run ahead and compete to be first at the top, and then you get me. I like to take my time. Breathe in and take in the view as I go. Naturally, the rest of the group got to the top and waited for me for about fifteen minutes… I did them a solid, though, because they got to rest for fifteen minutes more than me. You’re welcome. It took every ounce of self motivation I had to reach the top. Everything ached and burned and reminded me of the cardio I’ve been skipping for way too long. I came across another woman struggling to conquer this calve buster… She was lying with her head in the sand at a 60 degree angle. I sat down with her, and tried to motivate her to get up. “We’ve got this!”, I breathed, “Come on, sister, we can do it!” We crawled up the last 30 steps. Victory! Sometimes it’s not so much about being first, but about the ones you carry with you along the journey.

As I turned around, and sat down on the edge of the dune, a silence filled my heart. The desert landscape rolled out as far as my eyes could see. It looked like a huge, velvety picnic blanket spread over the earth. There wasn’t a sound, except the wind fluttering around grains of sand.

I finally understood what people meant when they said they were going through a desert season. A season of drought, of nothingness.

I pondered this idea as we drove into the moon landscape that evening. We would spend the night in a campsite in the middle of nowhere. Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? Rather terrifying for a hard-core city girl. Honestly. Sometimes it felt like the silence was going to swallow me whole, and never let me escape.

The next morning we set off to film some of Namibia’s wildlife. As my feet hit the sand at our first stop, I heard a voice: “Look around, dearest. What do you see?” Well, the answer was simple. A whole lot of nothing, with a few rocks and lost Quiver tree. “Okay, now… Look deeper.” As we wandered through the dunes, I started seeing how much life there was all around. Every creature unique, resilient and thriving in this desolate land. Every creature in the desert has learned to go the extra mile to survive. To make use of all their resources and senses, to keep moving forward. Even to live in abundance.

I started seeing the golden thread weaving all the way into my own life. This wasn’t my first encounter with a desert. I have faced many deserts in my life, and at that time I was facing one of the biggest droughts yet. I started losing hope. I filled the silence with tears and questions.

Standing with one foot in the physical desert and the other in a spiritual desert was quite profound. Father was calling me to take a deeper look, and at last I was quiet for long enough to hear Him.

The wilderness. Created to heal us, not to hurt us. To teach us, not to break us. A place without distractions and noise.A place of clear vision and perspective. A place where warriors are trained.A place of untamed beauty and reckless love.A place of intimacy.A place of hope.

Seasons change. Deserts and droughts will come, dear one. All you have to do is quiet down, take a deeper look and see how much life there is all around.

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.” ~ Hos. 2:14 ESV ~

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