Desert Retreats Often Seem Like Being in Labor and Doing Spiritual Battle with Afflictive Emotions
People often think that when I go off into the wilderness, I am simply experiencing one bliss-filled joy after another. However, for me, these solitary retreats feel more like a period of giving birth. This birthing process, like natural birth, involves what can best be described as a series of "labor pains."
I'm an artist who works with the medium of insights and ideas, and - as any creative person knows - this process involves a good amount of vulnerability to the demons of doubt (including self-doubt), disillusionment, and anxiety about how society will view the new creation, which almost always involves a mixture of skepticism, disbelief, animosity and apathy.
Dealing with these sorts of thoughts while out in the wilderness always seems like a kind of battle, challenging me to hold my ground and not succumb to the energy of these afflictive emotions. That is precisely why I need the beauty and grandeur of Nature so much, for these qualities soothe and energize me to continue working and creating.
Photos: The first three petroglyphs are from the "Birthing Rock," off Kane Creek Road. The fourth (showing a warrior with a shield) is from the cliffs along the Potash Road. Both sites are near Moab, UT. The first three petroglyphs were made by members of the Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) culture, which inhabited the region from the 8th through the 12th centuries. The fourth petroglyph is from the Fremont Culture (ca. A.D. 1 to 1200). These photos were taken on April 25, 2016
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Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.