What happens when a British photographer attends the Showit United Conference in the Arizona desert?
She steps on quite a few cacti (see below), gets plentiful headshots taken and gazes at overlooks in awe… because really is there anything like the desert?
The desert somehow reminds me of my own story. There have been many times over the past three years that have felt like wasteland. Not much going on, pain points, seemingly miles of nothingness ahead. Cacti seem scary, lips get chapped quickly, the dry heat can be stifling and life just feels still.
Yet, glory be to God, there is so much beauty in the desert! Being in Arizona for three days made me realize how stunning the wasteland actually is. There are mountains all around and cacti come in many forms. The overlooks are incredible, the sunsets more piercing than I could imagine, cacti surprised me with their majesty and don’t even get me started on the weather! I will take the chapped lips for perfect hair any day!!
I went on a few walks by myself during the conference. I wanted to soak it all in… the scenery and the lessons I was learning. The first day, I stepped on quite a few cacti. It was a humorous experience and I made a few friends who helped pluck the pricklies out of my sandals! I also walked past vibrant flower bushes and hiked to the top of a hill to look at what seemed like the California coast!
There have been times when I’ve stepped on metaphorical cacti (who knew that it could grow on the ground?!) and it’s really hurt. People have helped guide me through the pain, and by God’s grace, “He plucked my feet from the net” (Psalm 25:15). There are times where I’ve looked at pain and been terrified to get close to it. But pain comes in many forms, and like cacti, each one has its own beauty. I’ve walked through seasons of unknown and seasons where little seems to shift. Yet I want to revel in the warmth and closeness of God in those times, even it means chapped lips.
The most underrated thing about the desert, though? It’s the light that shines so brightly. Sunsets are clear every night and it was a reminder to me that God is often clearer in the valley than he is on the mountain. Being on the ground, you can see things up close. From an overlook, you only get a bird’s eye view.
Take me to the valley again and again if it means a better picture of God’s beauty. Praise God for the desert.
Thank you to Emily Hardy + Ryn Loren for the headshots! 🙂