The Desert as Reality and Symbol

Donald Goergen

Untouched nature has a purity to it that can raise one’s heart and mind immediately to God. One who is in touch with the land, with nature, does not create a sophisticated view of secondary causes. There is an immediacy about nature that takes one straight to its Lord. Its barren and vast plenitude signals transcendence.

A symbol is that reality within which immanence and transcendence break down and manifest false dichotomies, for the experience of the height of Mount Athos overlooking the sea is simply a reality in which that which is so immanent is transcendence. Here reality need not be broken up; it remains whole… liturgy is called upon to create that same reality/symbol.

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Originally published in Spirituality Today, March 1982, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 70–79. Republished here with thanks.