One of the things that drew us to New Mexico was the pervasive spirituality, of the people—Indian, Hispanic, and Anglo—and of the landscape itself. Why does the desert seem spiritual? Why was the desert the birthplace of so many faiths? Daniel Matt, in his book God and the Big Bang, gives one reason why:
Silence is essential. We cannot hear something new if we are babbling away or carrying on a constant internal monologue. By quieting the mind, by emptying ourselves of preconceptions, we create a space for the alef to spell itself out in new ways. Why was the Torah given in the desert? Because "one cannot aquire wisdom or Torah unless one makes oneself like an ownerless desert."
To enter the desert, to become the desert, we must surrender our images. The vast wilderness mocks our mental habits, and its stark grandeur inspires the I to renounce the claim to who it thinks it is, to see through itself—if only for a moment (112).
[My own photograph,
from Chaco Canyon, New Mexico]