This past week I snuck away to Tucson to spend a few days in - what I thought would be - a warmer climate. As it turns out, Illinois was just as warm - if not warmer; even so, I didn't miss the humidity and very much enjoyed a few days without a single cloud in sight.
I spent my time reading a few good books (The Sadness of Christ, by Saint Thomas More; The True Icon: From the Shroud of Turin to the Veil of Manoppello, by Paul Badde; Nothing to Hide: Secrecy, Communication, and Communion in the Catholic Church, by Russell Shaw; and I think I finished a fourth book that I cannot now recall (the books I sent back via the postal system). I also began reading My Brother, the Pope, by Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, and am already halfway through it.
In the airport and on the plane to Tucson I read through several issues of L'Osservatore Romano and added quite a few new quotes from Pope Benedict XVI to my blog A Beggar for Love. It was quite noting the odd looks I received as people saw my highlighting my way through the papers with the pictures of the Pope scattered throughout them.
The real purpose of my little excursion, though, was to work on a few projects that have been sitting on the corner of my desk for several weeks - maybe even a couple of months. They are of the nature that require a period of time to simply sit down with them without distraction. I knew I would be able to do so out west and, thankfully, I did.
All in all, it was a rather productive time away.
Friday morning I drove out to Sabino Canyon - it isn't far from where I stayed - and went hiking through the desert, in no small part simply to say that I had done so.
The desert has a certain beauty to it, but after walking along for about an hour I found myself thinking, "Well, I think I've seen enough now" and wondered how Jesus spent forty days in the desert.
Because I went in the morning, the temperature was in the low 40s; even so, I found myself quickly becoming thirsty after only a few minutes into the hike. I had brought a large bottle of water with me, but now know the terrain I didn't want to consume it too quickly and became very aware of the preciousness of water.
You can imagine in delight when, after about twenty minutes into the hike, I stumbled upon not only restrooms but a water fountain, as well, from which I happily refilled my bottle (as it turns out the canyon has several such facilities scattered through the terrain). It wasn't quite an oasis, but it was close enough.
Most of the trails seemed to be named conveniently enough after their respective relation to the canyon, so when I saw a trail named "Rattlesnake Trail," I thought to myself (and maybe even aloud), "No, thank you," and continued along the main route.
When I returned to the visitor's lodge - which I hadn't visited before I began my little journey, I spied a creature through the back window:
Had I seen him before I began my hike, I probably wouldn't have set out in the first place.
I've returned to Springfield just in time for what may amount to a full inch of snow by the morning. Sometimes I wonder if the Lord simply likes to play games with me.