"God created Dune to test the faithful"
This phrase often goes through my head when I am traveling home. The desert has always been one of mankind's great teachers.
If you go quite some ways down this road, you will come to the place where I grew up. The few times I have taken people home with me from the "Great White World" they have been taken aback by the seeming starkness of the environment.
I am reminded of another phrase from Dune,
"The Kitab Al-Ibar, The Manual of the Friendly Desert,That is always how I think of the place where I grew up, the friendly desert, the place full of life.
the place full of life. Believe, and Al-Lat shall never burn you."
The desert is completely unforgiving, one mistake, one action out of harmony with her and it can cost you your life. Folks from "civilization" come to the desert with all manner of hi-tech equipment to insulate themselves from the reality of the environment, they even bring their homes on wheels, complete with TV and wet bar, and still the desert claims a few of them every year.
Unless you know where to look you will never find the secret places where water gives life to the dry land. Where the abundant wildlife and the green growing plants find what they need to nurture life in the desert.
You might be walking a hundred yards from one of these secret places and never notice if you don't know what to look for. Much of the South West is a big plateau, with deep canyons cut by rainfall and snow melt. If you can't read the land you may never find one of the life giving canyons.
The mountains are sacred, they are a place of refuge, and they are where the Gan, the mountain spirits live.
If you walk quietly through the trees you might come across a "medicine wheel" at a place where someone stopped to pray, to connect with God and the spirit of the place, to seek a vision.
And everywhere you go you see the places of the Old Ones, the Anasazi, who were here for thousands of years, and who are in fact still here.
Their towns are found in the most unlikely places, and the stories of who they were are passed down from generation to generation.
And they wrote about themselves on the cliff walls, leaving the stories of their lives and what they understood about the universe for anyone who can read them.
Here I am, standing at the center of the world.
When I think about these things sometimes I get homesick.