BORDERLANDS REFLECTION: “What did you go out to the desert to see? Luke 7:26


1 December 2014
go out to the desert to see?  Luke

By John Heid

“Our work is done for today,” Joel
yelled across the wash as he waved his arms emphatically.  I was puzzled.  We were still a good four miles from our
destination, Red Tail water tank.  Joel
shouted again.  “We’re done!  Come over here!”  As I approached, no further words were
needed.  A few feet in front of him
lay a sun-bleached human skull, eyeless sockets looking south, resting starkly
among the coal black volcanic rocks strewn across this ancient plain.

Yes, our work was done for the day in
that mid-afternoon moment of Thanksgiving eve.  I took off my hat and sat in silent prayer.  Joel called 911.

Joel, Director of Operations for Humane
Borders, a Tucson-based humanitarian aid organization, and I were conducting
the annual assessment of water tanks in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife
Refuge and replacing the weathered blue flags that prominently identify each
tank.  The person whose skull we
came upon had missed the nearest tank by a few miles.  S/he was the eleventh set of human
remains recovered in the Tucson sector of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands since 1
October 2014.

I knew this day would probably come.  I expected it as much as I dreaded it.  Given the political and economic
realities of our times, my finding human remains, sooner or later was
inevitable.  This man or woman was
likely on his or her way to reunite with family.  Or simply on the way to find work.  All that ended weeks or months ago in
the austere terrain of the Growler valley a few miles from El Camino del Diablo
(Devil’s Highway). 

The ancient Advent query in Luke 7:24-26
rises anew.  What reason did this
one have to come to the desert?  Why
do I?  Why do any of us walk the
Way we do?

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