I left Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument feeling lucky, grateful, and blessed to be on such a magical journey. I bought gas at a station on a reservation near Why, and while I sipped a drink, I wandered into the casino and talked to a fellow who looked and sounded like Fisher Stevens in Short Circuit.
I asked if there was a quarter machine, and he ushered me to a bewildering device that only took dollar bills, no coins. He showed me where to put the bill, explained that I could play one quarter at a time, or all four at once. Since I only wanted to push the button once for luck, I opted for the four-in-one chance to win. I pushed the button, and the machine lit up and made some jingly noises. I asked Fisher what that meant, and he said I’d won 34 quarters. I waited for the thrill of all those quarters cascading into my hands, but after a few seconds, the machine pinged, and spit out a voucher for $8.50. Quite an anticlimax, but see? Lucky!
I proceeded to Tucson to meet up with a once-long-lost friend. We had a lovely dinner Saturday night, then yesterday she took me on a tour of some of her favorite places. First we visited the Mission San Xavier del Bac, nicknamed the “white dove of the desert,” because of its shining presence in the arid expanse. (The west tower was struck by lightning in 1939, and restoration continues when funds allow.) Then we drove through Saguaro National Park, and on the way back, we stopped at the Redemptorist Renewal Center on Picture Rocks Road.
I wandered the beautiful grounds, marvelled at the ancient petroglyphs, and made the holy walk through the labyrinth to the center, a symbol of life’s path
I sat on a rock in the center of the labyrinth, feeling blessed, feeling the rightness of this quest I am on. I don’t know what I want from my journey, don’t know if I will ever know the totality of what it will give me, but for once in my life, as with the labyrinth, I am willing to follow the path without understanding and let life make of me what it will.
(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)