Guided Meditation for the Islands of Silence Pathway
The Islands of Silence is a meditation path that includes “7 islands” – that is 7 strategically chosen areas on a 1/5 mile path that undulates through the beautiful Sonoran Desert. Each island has its own character and presents a different thought and scenery. 5 of the 7 islands have sculptures and/or stone carvings, all giving honor to friends and family, etc. Islands 1-3 and 5-7 are accessible for wheelchair/walk/cane access. Island #4 is in a cleft of a hillside where the path goes downhill and is not appropriate for that type of access.
The islands were chosen in this raw desert setting to begin from the top to the bottom-why? The symbolism is powerful, and it represents our lives. We Love the high spots in life, everything is right with the world and we just want to shout ”yes!” — but we can’t stay there even if we wanted to! There is no strength without trials, there is no deepening of our faith without circumstances that call us to call out to the One who can remove us from the valleys of the shadows of death. The crooked times lead us to seek the straight and level paths in life. So we start at the top of the hill and work our way to the bottom where we cross the wash, sometimes a moving creek, but mostly damp earth or dry. Then the the path begins to rise slightly and by the time we arrive at our last island, the path is straight and level and we rejoin the world once again … just like life. It’s a reminder of God’s promise in Proverbs 3: 5-6…“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; God is the one who will keep you on track.
1. Joyful Proclamation!
Psalm 19:1… The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.
This island is dedicated to Pastor Ken Larkin. One of his favorite quotes is on the boulder, “There’s a rainbow in the mountain made by the hand of the Lord; now the trail meets the mountain and they proclaim God’s Word.” As you begin your walk here, do a 360o view and take in the unbelievable beauty of the Sonoran Desert. Look for life — it’s everywhere — in the plants, the critters, the rocks — and don’t be silent in your praise-if you do those very rocks will cry out praise to their Creator. So stretch your arms to the sky, lift up your voice and let the praises go up and delight in the blessings that come down from our Creator God!
2. Promises in the Thorns of Life
Jeremiah 29: 11… For I know the plans I have for you…plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
This island sits among the yucca, crucifixion thorn and lots of prickly stuff! Some would say this is a rather “tough spot.” But as it always is with our God, there is beauty and a life-lesson among the thorns. Remember that the “thorns in our lives” don’t get by God’s radar! God has no plans for harm, but rather to give hope, an inheritance and a future for us to live in God’s amazing grace and unending love. Rest and look in the Palo Verde trees– see the bird nests – usually at least two ongoing ones are there, a reminder to us that amidst the thorns, life thrives in the hands of our Almighty and Loving God!
3. Perspective for Abundant Living
Hebrews 12: 1… Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
You sit, nestled among Palo Verdes trees, and thorny plants—like Island #2. One might ask, “why put this bench among the ugly stuff?” The answer: Look at the whole view! See Black Mountain in the background–a wonderful life lesson. Why? It’s a lesson on focus! Look at the modern sculpture, a model of Jesus the servant, caring for others sculpted by the late Rev. Dr. Jerry Ebbinga. When we stop focusing on ourselves, we can see the world around us and address its needs. If we focus on God’s blessings rather than the problems around us, our vision becomes crystal clear…and our perspective on life can be seen through the eyes of the Lord—giving guidance, wisdom, and a fresh breath of air for true and significant living!
4. Rock of Ages Cleft for Me
Psalm 32:7… For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory. & Psalm 91:4… He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you can hide. His truth will be your shield and protection.
Calcite covered rocks, craggy lava outcroppings and a hidden ledge provide space for you to sit. Shelter and quiet give a feeling of safety within this hillside cleft. The Psalms of David and Moses, invite us to “hide in God” when the world gets to be too much. They call, “come and find shelter under God’s protective wings.” You may find yourself singing Rock of Ages Cleft for Me or You Are My Hiding Place…or just basking in the quiet. Pour out your heart in this safe cleft, and let the strength of God hold you and the peace of God wash over you with understanding and joy.
5. In Silence Beholding
Psalm 46:1, 5 ... My soul waits in silence for God…for God is my hope…
This island is given in honor of the late Dr. Rev. Scott Haasarud, one of the early spiritual and programming directors at Spirit in the Desert. Linda Kilgore is the sculpture artist. Scott had the idea for the Islands of Silence Meditation Path, wanting all who come here to behold the silence and let the Spirit speak, just as the Psalmist calls us to silence, for transformation will not happen without silence and sitting still. Author Brené Brown’s says: “Silence is not about focusing on nothingness. It’s opening an emotionally clutter-free space and allowing ourselves to feel and think and dream and question.” Allow the soft bell of the sculpture to soothe your soul. Take comfort in the wall that gives protection from monsoon floods, just as the Lord protects us every day. Behold the silence … be blessed.
6. Encountering “Presence”
Philippians 4:8… And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
“Enter” this island, leave the sunshine and embrace the canopy of the native 300+ year old mesquite trees that shroud you like clouds, holding your thoughts captive to the peaceful surroundings. In biblical times, clouds meant the presence of God! This island is also “moist” with desert grasses and more ground cover because the wash runs behind it–water underground constantly nourishing both plants and critters who visit. Find the stone basin filled with water–a reminder of God’s presence in our baptism and life!
7. Community – With One Another
Psalm 133: 1… It is good and pleasant when God’s people live together in peace!
We conclude with another island that has two benches. Notice they’re closer—encouraging us to gather together. Remember that old 70’s song, No Man Is An Island — it’s a part of God’s plan! God put us all together–this huge melting pot of people–so we could help one another and share God’s love with one another by what we do, say and think. Scripture says, ”when one falls the other can pick them up” — we need one another; it’s the way God created us, in fact it’s the way all God’s creation works. Just like the cog in a wheel, a missing link trips up the whole works.
So, as you leave your walk, if someone is there, ask them to join you. This is the “community” island so share, pray, sing, cry, be real and authentic with one another. If you are alone, give God thanks for those who have come along-side you in life as a mentor, guide, friend in the Lord—and pray for them. Then take your leave rejoicing with this Scripture upon your lips and heart,
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” –(Hebrews 12: 1-3 NLT)