The Desert

One day a man was tending his garden, which bordered the desert in Arizona. Dusk was descending and he heard in the distance the sound of motorbikes.

A gang of Hell’s Angels rode up, attacked him, tied him to the back of one of the bikes, and drove him into the desert. There they left him barely alive as night fell.

The man survived the night and began to regain consciousness as the sun appeared above the horizon. He knew that the sun in the desert means certain death. Without food, water, or shelter he stood no chance of survival.

Then at his side he noticed a small bush. He crawled underneath and curled up using the little shade there was to protect himself from the burning rays of the sun. He felt despair—no one knew where he was.

Just at that moment he saw a falcon landing on the branch of the bush. To the man’s amazement the falcon spoke and asked, “Can I help you?” Shocked, the man replied, “I am dying of thirst, my mouth and tongue are swollen. To survive I need water.” “Look behind you,” said the falcon. “There is a snake. Follow the snake, for it knows where the water seeps out of the rocks. There you will be able to drink.”

The man returned to the bush, and the next day the falcon came back. “How are you?” the falcon asked. “I have drunk but I need food to survive—water alone is not enough.” “Stay quiet and wait until the antelope passes by. When it does, follow it—it can show you where the cactus plants are whose flesh you can eat.” Sure enough, when the man followed the antelope he found food and was able to eat.

Feeling fitter, he returned to the bush and once again the falcon arrived. “Can I do anything for you?” it asked. “Yes,” replied the man. “Although I have drunk and eaten I still need salt to survive. How can I get the salt I need to live?” “Have no fear,” replied the falcon. “The fox also needs salt. If you follow the fox you will see where it finds the rocks to lick that will give you the salt you need.”

The man did as the falcon said and the next day returned to find that the bush under which he had sheltered was burned and charred. “What will I do now?” asked the man. “I have no shelter, I will burn to death.”

Then the man realized he had been out in the desert each day following the animals. He had learned how to find food, water, and salt. He knew how to survive.

He noticed the rich colors of the sky as the sun dipped low on the horizon, the blues, the purples, and the gold of the sun itself. He heard the exquisite songs of the birds in the distance and he felt an inner peace and joy. “Shall I show you the way home?” asked the falcon. The man thought for a moment and then said, “I think I’ll stay a little longer.”

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