Easter Musings


I’m sure I’ve mentioned I dislike Easter. It’s literally the worst day of the year. Why? Oh, it’s not so much the Jesus freaks, it’s the fact that most business shut down on behalf of the Jesus freaks. And it’s the fact that it’s usually a glorious day in Arizona. It’s not the kind of day where you want to stay at home and have a quiet day at home.

We decided to take the kids out geocaching on the north side of the Phoenix Mountain Parks. At least the city parks aren’t closed, and try though they might with their depressing tales of torture and murder, they can’t take the beauty out of a spring morning.

We’d never been to this area before and parking is sparse around there, no doubt because the rich folks who live on that part of the park’s perimeter don’t want riff-raff like us parking in their neighborhoods. Too bad for them.

Miffed as I generally am on Easter day, my mind tends to ponder the sheep-like devotion to a fiction, and so I’m turning these issues over in my head, probably more than I normally would, as we came over a saddle between two hills and it was one of those surprise moments you sometimes get in the Phoenix Mountain parks: a valley, surrounded by hills, with not the slightest trace of the city skyline visible anywhere. Apart from the footpaths cris-crossing the valley floor, I could have been looking at how it was 200 years ago, or even 2000 years ago. (I’m afraid my knowledge of the geology of the Phoenix area is remarkably lacking, but I don’t think the hills are younger than that.)

Some people don’t see the beauty in the desert. Some people, like me, are born here, have lived outside the cities and feel an affinity with it – it has the pull of home. Others come here and immediately see it. Most take time to appreciate it. Others, still, never do.

The sky was cloudless and blue. Beautiful, as long as you recognize it’s letting all that sunlight burn you alive.

The hills and rocks that are so pernicious to walk over, at a distance stand, almost defiant and mighty. They’re not big, but they make up for it in determination.

The earth is mostly desert brown, even the shrub brush are sparse enough and dull enough in color that it makes everything look that desert color, which at first glance is dull, but as you look more, it just makes the colors even more alive. On this spring morning, the hills were covered with yellow-flowering plants. Tiny little things, but in their millions, visible across the valley.

Not as obvious, because they are even smaller, little purple flowers dot along the trails.

Looking at these things is as close as I ever get to a “religious” experience. What an amazing world we live in. What a beautiful, diverse world that, even though I’ve lived in Phoenix 26 years, I can still walk over a hill and see something this beautiful that I’ve never seen before. How sad that, in our lifespan, none of us will ever walk over every hill and see every wonder this planet has to offer.

And then there’s the universe – that mindless, mind-bogglingly vast frontier. What wonders await us out there?

Ten minutes later, I ran across two nuns, sitting on the side of one of the hills, looking out over the same scenery I was looking at, no doubt contemplating the wonder of their god for providing for them.

What a small picture that must paint in their minds.