Thursday, January 22, 2009

El Paso, Texas 24.11.01: Lure of Silence and Vast Space

Sunrise in El Paso, as we wait at the airport for our flight to Little Rock by way of Dallas. The mountains outside the window now totally in the light, ribs of brown, taupe, and gray against the light blue. The light leaves little undisclosed in the West.

All day yesterday, a fierce dust storm that caused the death of two people on the interstate in New Mexico, and the closing of the interstate. The dust began, by noon, to hang on the horizon, a thick yellowish haze in the air like smoke from a distant fire. It came into cracks in buildings and coated our skins with fine powder, putting grit onto our teeth.

Life here: the lure of mountain and dry land, the lure people like Georgia O’Keefe felt, must be the lure of silence and vast space. Everything else—including the nattering of human concern—vanishes in such a landscape, so that one is left alone. Or with God. No wonder the desert fathers; no wonder the birth of Judaism, Islam, Christianity in desert places.

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