Reflections from Christ in the Desert

My first week of sabbatical is drawing to an end, which on one hand cannot seem possible, and on the other it seems like it has been longer already. I needed the time to decompress. The first couple of days I slept. A lot. Going to bed early and rising later than normal. Snatching a nap or two in the afternoon. Dozing while reading a book. I knew I’d go in to this sabbatical tired, I just didn’t realize how much.

Phil LaBelle, 2017.

I needed the quiet. And the beauty of the landscape. It’s immense. The canyon walls expose layered rock, years of sediment shown. The colors of the rock run from red and ochre to nearly white. The layers run along the entirety of the mesa. The walls easily go up 800 to a 1000 feet or more, formations carved by the passing of time and the running of a river.


The hospitality of the monks was a true gift. Wonderful food, a comfortable and cozy room, the regularity of prayer throughout the day, all nourished me. Long hikes into the National Forest Area that borders the monastery gave me a chance to stretch my legs a bit.
I’m coming away with a sense of the deep love of God. God’s care for us in the deserts of our lives can be seen in the grace of the physical desert here. The clear blue skies, the swallows diving and weaving in the afternoons, the desert flowers that have popped up. Even though the terrain could be seen as harsh or barren, signs of life persist. They point to God’s goodness.
And so I get ready to embark on Week 2—time with Melissa exploring Vancouver with its forests and ocean coming together. I hope and trust that what this week allowed for me personally, the next week will give that gift of renewal to us as a couple.
Onward.