"Life nowhere appears so brave, so bright, so full of oracle and miracle as in the desert."
— Edward Abbey
"If I do not discover in myself the terrain where the Hindu, the Muslim, the Jew and the atheist may have a place — in my heart, in my intelligence, in my life — I will never be able to enter into a genuine dialogue."
— Raimon Panikkar
"The inner desert arises primarily from grief: the universal desert of unchosen loss and death, pain that grinds the soul to dust and bears within it the threat of despair as well as hope for transformation and compassion."
— David Denny
In 2017, Tessa Bielecki celebrated her 50th anniversary of living in a wilderness hermitage. In 2005, she created with her friend and colleague Fr. Dave Denny a nonprofit organization called The Desert Foundation. We have always respected Bielecki's calling to her own special brand of contemplation and sacred action. That diligent and spunky spirit shines through the passages in this paperback which harvest the Desert Foundation's first decade of writing.
In the rousing "Desert Love Affair" Bielecki and Denny write about their reverence for this arid and beautiful wilderness place; it has spurred them to share the stories of their lives and to ponder afresh the wisdom of the Desert Fathers and Mothers. In this spirit, the authors also salute the spiritual benefits of regularly practicing silence, simplicity, and solitude. Equally important to them is welcoming strangers and fostering a life-enhancing dialogue with them.
"Tent of Meeting" gives Bielecki and Denny the chance to sing the praises of interfaith dialogue among Christians, Jews, and Muslims and to seek an end to religious exclusivity, violence, chauvinism, and homophobia. We were edified by Bielecki's piece on the sixth Parliament of the World's Religions titled "Open Kitchen." The theme for this gathering held in Salt Lake City, Utah, was "Reclaiming the Heart of Our Humanity: Working Together for a World of Compassion, Peace, Justice, and Sustainability."
In a group of essays under the section "Walls and Bridges" the authors take a hard look at conflicts and distrust between Jews, Christians, and Muslims in regard to Israel and Palestine. Last but not least is "The Inner Desert" where Bielecki and Denny show the transformation that is possible when loss, grief, and death are reframed as spiritual teachers. He ends this overview of their mission and ministry with the following inspirational words:
"So let's go to the edge of our territory, bury the hatchet, erect a tent, plant some corn in the desert, listen to each other's voices, sleep under the stars, and wait for sunrise."