I felt as if I’d been under the blistering sun for twenty-eight hours straight, but I knew that was impossible. As far as I could see, stubby, brittle clumps of plant barely-life dotted the landscape. Desperate for some cover, I crouched under a sage bush. Well, it was more beside than under. I heard rustling and saw dead leaves ripple away from me. I told myself it was a lizard. That was one of the least scary perpetrators. Scorpions, rattlesnakes, centipedes, spiders-
A shadow gliding across the cracked dirt around me caught my eye and my attention turned away from things that slither and crawl. I squinted my eyes and scanned the cloudless sky for the shadow’s owner. Just then, he made another pass and swooped lower. I know I must have imagined it, but I swore he slowed down and looked me in the eyes. “I’m not dead yet!” I yelled, and threw a clump of dirt in his general direction. It didn’t come close to hitting him, but the vulture seemed to accept my answer and ascended again.
I knew he’d be back.
I’d only been in the desert for a few days and I already decided Arizona was not a hospitable host in June. My friends back home encouraged me to drive across the country. My journey from Ohio to California was something like a tribute to feminist movement and a salute to independence of the fairer sex. To my every protest, my friends had an answer.
“What if I get lost?”
“Then you take a road you wouldn’t have found otherwise.”
“What if my car breaks down?”
“Then you see someplace new while it’s being repaired.”
“What if I run out of money?”
“Then you discover that God provides.”
Yeah. I wondered why God hadn’t provided a tree, or something taller than 3 feet for shade. I wondered why God hadn’t produced a stream flowing with cool water. I wondered why God hadn’t given me sense of direction so I didn’t get lost in the first place. I drew my legs to my chest, rested my forehead on my knees and cried until I was too tired to cry anymore. I may have napped, I’m not sure.
The rumble overhead was like a supernatural nudge on the shoulder. I looked up to find the cloudless sky replaced by a thick wall of clouds that stretched from the southern horizon to almost overhead. Nothing moved, yet the atmosphere surged with life. The rumbling rolled around me with such emphasis that I was certain the ground vibrated beneath me.
That was all the warning I got before the downpour. I didn’t try to avoid the wet, but instead, turned my face upward to soak it all in. The rain came so heavy, it stung my skin as the fat drops pelted my face, but I was so dry and thirsty I didn’t want to shield myself from it.
Just as suddenly as it began, the rain stopped.
I looked around in awe. The parched ground, now riddled with streams of water that had been unable to soak into the hardened soil. Just when I thought the show was over, a brilliant rainbow stretched across the sky in front of me.
I was still lost and tired, but instead of anger and frustration, I felt peace. The kind of peace that only happens when I realize God provided exactly what I needed, at just the right moment.
I haven’t written fiction in I-don’t-know-how long. This one came to me when I took a break from moving rocks to drainage areas in my yard. (It is HOT, by the way!) I noticed a shadow move across the driveway and disappear. It was a hawk. The bird did this several times before moving on. It will soon be monsoon season (mid-June through mid-September) here in Arizona and monsoon storms can be breathtaking. Unlike the dust storms, which are breathtaking because the inhaled dirt literally makes it hard to breathe 🙂 My thoughts have kind of been on being mindful of blessings, because this can sustain during periods when joy is effort. (The “desert” times of life). Anyway, thanks for reading! This just goes to show, you never know what I’ll write 🙂