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The Joshua Tree – Part I

Friday, February 24th, 2012. Awoke at 5 a.m., the usual time. Walked outside to get the morning paper in the driveway. It was still dark and as I opened the gate, I heard him, softly cooing not far away in the quiet neighborhood where I lived. It was a Mourning Dove. For reasons unknown, it suddenly occurred to me, this was the same dove I’d been hearing the day before and the weeks before that. Every day. But why did I “hear” him today, and not all the others?

As I went back inside, memories of my home state of Kansas came flooding back. Why? Because Mourning Doves are prevalent there. However, the last thing I expected was to hear one in San Diego, CA. of all places. I don’t know why that struck me as odd. Nevertheless, I sat down at my computer and immediately searched for a YouTube video of one. 30 seconds of that blissful, soothing sound and then….

There I was exactly a year earlier. A time when change was in the wind. I’d taken a trip out into the desert near Palm Springs, CA. to clear my head. That was on February 26th, 2011. On the way back along I-10, I passed by an exit that led to Joshua Tree, CA. The significance of that moment wasn’t lost on me then (see the story about that memorable trip…Click HERE, nor was it now. I felt the urge once more. Movement. Change. Wind.

February 25th, 2012. The next day. Same routine. This time no dove. BAM! That’s it! There’s the sign I was looking for. But why? Why now? Exactly one year later? Was I to go BACK? Something was stirring inside but this time it was different. Instead of Palm Springs, the choice was clear. I was heading to Joshua Tree National Park today. Time to re-connect with the inner spirit driving me there. Was He going to be there? Would the mourning dove call out? I would soon find out.

An hour and a half out of northern San Diego County, a place where I lived only 3 miles from the ocean, I saw wheat. I was on I-15 near Riverside, CA. Wheat! The same fields I’d seen the year before. Why? Why is a plant food that’s grown primarily in Kansas so important to this story? Maybe it’s because I raised it myself for so many years during most of my adult life living in Kansas. Or maybe there was a connection between the wheat and the mourning dove.

Driving on, closer to my destination, I then encountered hundreds of wind farms near Beaumont, CA. Strangely enough, there just happened to be a wind watch advisory that day. I’ve always been captivated by these monstrous man-made objects. I pulled onto Highway 62 for the last leg to Joshua Tree, stopped, and took some photos. The wind was roaring.

The dove, wheat, and the wind. What did all that mean? “Movement.” I often say; “When you feel life’s burdens weighing down upon you, when all hope seems lost, when nothing seems to be going right, when it’s all you can do just to get through another day, keep going. You’re not finished yet.”

That’s what I was thinking as I pulled into Yucca Valley, CA. for the night, a mere 12 miles or so from the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. It was nearing sundown. I was tired and needed rest. Yet this urge to keep going, to keep moving, as if an unforeseen force within was pulling me saying; “Keeping going, you’re not finished yet, make it to the top!”

And that’s what I would do. I would make it to the top of one of the most scenic views of the Park just as the sun was setting an end to another day.

I thought it would be there I would get the answers to the questions I’d been asking myself all day; “Why am I doing this? Why am I going out into the desert once more, only to be surrounded by literally millions of trees and rocks?” And though the view was breath-taking that evening, it wouldn’t be until the next day when my breath would really be taken away, a revelation and “moment in time” that brought forth tears and nearly crumpled me to my knees. But it was in that “moment” of humility when I would discover strength and when the mission’s purpose became much clearer.

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