The sun begins its descent as saguaro cactus line the horizon. Ocatilla cactus extend their arms towards the sky while barrel cactus cradle the earth. Thorns will be your companions in this arid landscape and as the moon rises coyotes awaken, permeating the air with their howls.

This portion of our semester in late November was a time of reflection and contemplation. We were to separate, walk through the desert, and find a place that resonates with our spirit. It is here where we sit with ourselves for 24 hours to fast and contemplate. Through fasting, we strive to resist the impulses of hunger, focus on listening to our inner spirit, and explore the mystery around and within us. In this disciplined silence the mind wanders, fears and desires emerge. But if one is able to nurture the witness, a place also opens, one where questions formulate, and opportunities present themselves.

I ponder how few are these opportunities. A purposeful period to stop and observe our minds, listen to our feelings, and ask the important questions that will follow us our entire lives.

We emerge from our individual sanctuaries the next morning. The sun rises and blankets the earth with it’s warmth as we gather to reconnect, share, and grow. It requires conscious effort to remind ourselves of what is sacred in our lives, there are examples all around us, and are rituals worth holding on to.

Olegario