Prompt Jar: In the Desert

Kay Adams

If the desert is holy, it is because it is a forgotten place that allows us to remember the sacred. Perhaps that is why every pilgrimage to the desert is a pilgrimage to the self. There is no place to hide and so we are found.

–Terry Tempest Williams in Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert

I am in the desert this week, facilitating the 21st (I think) women’s writing retreat. We’ve just concluded the first night, and it is going to be a powerful week. I invite you to join us in writing from desert prompts, informed by Mary Reynolds Thompson’s work with earth archetypes as pathways to wholeness.


Free-write or cluster on the desert. What does it represent to you?


For what do you thirst?


“There is no place to hide.” From what or whom do you hide? How do you hide?


The fiery heat of the desert strips us to bare essentials. What do you truly need? What will you leave behind?


As I was setting up our meeting room, I pulled a draped table away from the wall and caught movement in my peripheral vision. A small lizard had scurried from its lair. I opened both doors and started speaking to it, inviting it to return to its natural habitat. Then I sat down to observe it. It was perfectly still for two or three minutes at a time, then darted a few feet, changing direction each time. At some point I busied myself with a task. Two minutes later when I glanced over, the lizard was nowhere to be found. I looked up lizard medicine and found this: “”Lizard has an innate ability to recognize danger and can remove itself from harm when the situation calls for it.” How are you like, or not like, Lizard in this respect?


In the desert, alone, there is silence. What is your relationship to silence?


Some cacti don’t bloom until they are 30 years old. What is the cactus flower within you, hidden but preparing to blossom?



One Response to Prompt Jar: In the Desert

  1. Carol Roberts February 20, 2018 at 11:22 am #

    That one about bare essentials spoke to me, because I tried to do that when I left Nashville for Central California. I have missed surprisingly little, though I packed about 15 boxes away in my son’s barn and gave away the furniture. Yesterday, I did miss something though–the insulated carry-all which I have used for two decades to carry casseroles. Finally I have become active in a church and a church choir, and my first week I was invited to a choir party–where I needed that blue thingamagig. Somehow I have filled a hole in my heart, that of sweet fellowship with like-minded folks–and a small thing reminded me of how good it is to find community. Thanks for asking, Kay!

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