Once I enter wilderness, I am more honest with myself. The lure is less what I can tally or photograph than what I can sense: the quiet, intangible qualities of desert, mountain and forest. Wilderness has been characterized as barren and unproductive; little can be grown in its sand and rock. But the crops of the wilderness have always been its spiritual values -- silence and solitude, a sense of awe and gratitude -- able to be harvested by any traveler who visits. Prayers in the wilderness were like streams in the desert for me -- something unanticipated and unchronicled welling up, and because of that surprise, appreciated all the more. Not until I actually left the wilderness was I conscious what had been the extent of my thirst.
The silence as broken at last by the bell signifying the end of morning activity. Turning to the old woman, I asked, "What are you looking at?" I immediately flushed. Prying into the lives of the residents was strictly forbidden. Perhaps she had not heard. But she had. S1ow1y she turned toward me, and I could see her face for the first time. It was radiant. In a voice filled with joy she said, "Why, child, I am looking at the Light."