Once I enter wilderness

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.

What I find distinct about gratitude in the wilderness

What I find distinct about gratitude in the wilderness is its simplicity -- the thankfulness I feel here is for what I usually take for granted: my capacity to breathe, move and see ... For the most part, gratitude here wells up unexpectedly, in the quiet corners of the day, over events small and ordinary. Gratitude is the other side of dependence on God: to take anything for granted in the wilderness seems presumptuous, blasphemous. And so, here in these naves of vaulting stone, prayers of thanksgiving begin to edge out prayers of petition.