“I started studying rivers pretty late in life,” says the ebullient voice of my mid-20s-research-technician-self. “Actually, I got a master’s degree in Forestry first.”
“Twenty-five isn’t so late,” grumbles the wearier voice of my mid-50s-professor-self.
The broad brim of my plain hat shades my face and neck from the relentless Arizona sun as my old mule packer’s boots crunch along a dry creek bed. A small band of us, strangers just days before, are holding what my journal describes as “Meeting for Worship on the Occasion of the Sonoran Desert.” We are a delegation of the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT).
The Bellagio casino glimmers
above a round blue lake.
Outside the Tropicana
waterfalls pour over fake rocks.
All night under the desert moon
the profligate water splashes,
sparkling like silver coins.
Four hundred miles south
three braceros lie down to die
beside empty plastic bottles.
Ultimate Peace, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that runs a summer sports camp, teaching ultimate frisbee to Muslim and Jewish teenagers near Ashkelon, at the edge of the Negev Desert in Israel, about eight miles from the Gaza Strip.
Paradox defined: “Items and situations that seem mutually exclusive, yet somehow reflect upon each other, often creating a deeper, more nuanced truth, perhaps in dynamic tension, or complementing each other.” Like a Quaker serving in the military. I lived that paradox intermittently for seven years while serving in the reserves during medical school and residency.