I love deserts.
I absolutely love them.
If you think it odd that someone could love deserts, then you have probably never been in a desert. Because if you had, then you would understand. Deserts are amazing, and I can't think of a better time than now, while most of North America is buried under snow and ice, to tell you why.
Five Reasons to Love Deserts:
1. If you love the heat but hate to sweat. I have been living in the sub-tropics for more than twenty years. I understand heat. Not only do I understand it, but I love it. I would much rather feel my skin blistering off than deal with goosebumps. For Floridians, however, heat is more than just heat. Here warm temperatures are paired with a humidity so thick that most days we feel as if we could drink the air.
Not so in deserts.
Any desert movie you have seen in which the characters are drenched in sweat has probably given you a false impression. In deserts, sweat can wick directly from your pores straight into the air. Because sweat droplets are not beading up and rolling down your back, you may not realize how much moisture you have lost.
Which is why dehydration is the silent killer.
While in the desert, you must constantly hydrate, because once you're actively thirsty, it's too late. You're already dehydrated. So you must keep plenty of water with you and drink from it at all times.
2. If you’ve always wanted to go to outer space. For someone who has spent most of her life in the neat squares of suburbia, confronting the eerie desert landscape feels like exploring another world.
3. If you are a huge nerd. One of the best literary experiences of my life involves taking turns reading Louis L’Amour’s sweeping desert saga The Lonesome Gods with my friend Alissa as we drove through the precise section of the Mohave Desert providing the book's backdrop. Whenever we stopped alongside the road, I looked for protagonist Johannes Verne to stride out of the desert saying, "I am Johannes Verne, and I am not afraid."
For the career nerd, it doesn't get much better than that.
4. If you love variety. Contrary to what some people assume, deserts are not all vast stretches of indistinguishable sand dunes. Even outside of the oases, deserts contain a stunning variety of colors, shapes, topographies, and life.
5. If you need to be reminded of what it means to thirst for God. Read Psalm 63 with an understanding that David penned these words while in the Negev—the Judean Desert:
Until I stood in that same desert, I did not understand the force of David's words. I had always known that David's thirst for God felt real. Immediate. Visceral. But I suddenly grasped that this was the thirst of a man in a desert. A man who knows he will die without water. A man who knows the importance of constant refreshment. Who knows that he feels thirst because he's already dehydrated.
While it's true that I love deserts for the delicious heat, the variety, and the strange beauty, I also love them because they remind me of a greater truth: that this world is a spiritual desert, and that while it does have its own warmth and beauty, it is nevertheless a potentially-deadly wasteland of howling spiritual poverty, one that requires constant spiritual hydration for survival.