July 16, 2020

Scenes from the Desert

2015-07-01 at 17-50-45

Here is a gallery of scenes from the desert for you to enjoy. The pictures were taken in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve and the McDowell Mountain Sonoran Preserve in Arizona. Seeing the images is obviously not the same as being there, but perhaps they will provide the opportunity for you to take a wilderness journey of your own in your heart and mind today.

Click on each photo to see a large image.


by Patricia Hooper

Where there’s a river,
that tastes of direction.

Where there’s an orchard,
that says survival.

Where there’s a desert,
that changes everything,

as if earth hadn’t wanted
to fill only her need.



• • •

You can see more pictures by viewing the full album at: Chaplain Mike’s Flickr page.


  1. Beautiful photos, Mike! I went to your fllckr page to see them all. Love the ones with the moon.

  2. Great pictures, and beautiful state. I love hiking there.

    Go just an hour or two north (at much higher elevations), and you experience differing aspects of deserts, such as the Painted Desert.

  3. Nice shots. Did you see any rattlesnakes?

    • Did not. Nor did I see many creatures. Temps were between 102-110 degrees every day when I was there. I assume they were all chillin’ somewhere.

  4. Beautiful. That top picture almost has an underwater quality to it.

  5. Rick Ro. says

    Thanks for sharing your pics with us iMonkers. Beautiful.

  6. David Cornwell says

    Mike, thanks for sharing. You are doing an excellent job getting to some of the stark essence of wilderness beauty.

    I haven’t had the opportunity to take photos in a similar setting and know that it would be a challenge. One of the things I’ve noticed in attempting to take good photographs is the intrusion of our culturally ingrained need to constantly hurry and be on the move. However just stopping, staying still, and waiting in a location that at first seems static and uninteresting, can change by just waiting, staying aware, listening, and observation. Something will change, perhaps first on the margins gradually bringing awareness that all is not as it seemed, light and shadow playing its tricks, or contrast growing deeper. And one way or the other wilderness yields its gifts to us.

    It reminds me, for some reason, of Leonard Cohen’s lyrics:

    “Forget your perfect offering
    There is a crack, a crack in everything
    That’s how the light gets in. ”
    That’s how the light gets in.”

    I’m interesting in hearing from you: What is the gift this wilderness experience has yielded to you?

    • Thanks, David. As for your question, I think today’s poem suggests one gift — the gift of simply enjoying the “useless” beauty of God’s creation.

  7. Looking at one of those pictures made me think of time. There’s a lot of it out there. Like a metaphor of life – there’s a lot happening out there and change is constant but if you don’t stay with it for some duration you never see it. Patience!

  8. Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful pictures, and the poem that accompanies them. Reminding us we’re here to be a part of God’s creation and to do that we have to be still.

    Modern life urges us constantly to grab, gobble, and grind — to destroy and destroy so we can have more expensive stuff.

    Shell starts its drilling in the Arctic this week. It’s hard for me to keep a sense of hope, but pictures like yours help.

  9. Thanks for sharing Chaplain Mike! You’re photos vividly convey the beauty of a stark land. Nice job! I lived in Albuquerque for several years and fell in love with the high desert. Though not quite the same as the Sonora where you’re visiting, it is beautiful in an almost primeval way.

    “as if earth hadn’t wanted
    to fill only her need.”

    I sometimes think God made this entire universe just to say, “Hey, look what I did. Ain’t it grand?”

  10. Beautiful, Mike — pictures and poem both.

  11. Never been to the desert. One day.


  12. Robert F says

    …all equal, far reaches, no bounds.
    Sound swallowed away,
    no waters, no mountains, no
    bush no grass and
    because no grass
    no shade but your shadow.
    No flatness because no not-flatness.
    No loss, no gain. So–
    nothing in the way!
    –the ground is the sky
    the sky is the ground,
    no place between…

    From Finding the Space in the Heart, by Gary Snyder

  13. Robert F says

    Pictures of a desert,
    a place I’ve never been,

    past the edge
    of a series of paths
    I’ve never walked.

    Glimpses into a world
    that my mind fills with

    the strangeness & dryness,
    the thirsty life

    of my own heart.

  14. Radagast says

    I went to your Flickr page CM… beautiful. Looks like the landscape we saw as we drove from Phoenix north. Funny thing… as we began to rise in elevation, and especially at the 3,000 foot above sea level, those tall cactuses abruptly stopped…

    • Many who have not been to Arizona are unaware of the diversity of landscape, such as the higher elevations areas such as Sedona (and its red rocks) and Flagstaff (with its 12,600 ft, often snow-capped mountain).