The Joshua Tree:  A Desert Parable :: By Jean-Louis Mondon

Sighing and The Divine Response

(Prologue to Chapters 1-5)

“The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. I open my mouth and pant [or sigh], longing for your commands. Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name. Direct my footsteps according to your word” (Psalm 119:130-133).

“The LORD said to him, ‘Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst” (Ezekiel 9:4).

Sighing is not the only prerogative of lovers languishing and waiting for the beloved or the facial expression of discouragement of a student facing homework that is beyond his intellectual capability. It is, in fact, as inherent to man as laughter is.

All sighs do not possess the same value or meaning. There are sighs that lose their weight in the immensity of a cruel, merciless universe that can lead to despair and even death in the absence of a saving answer. Such is the condition of the human being without God. Can the answer to the mysteries of life be found without asking pertinent questions about it?

In my generation, Nihilism, the Absurd of Eugene Ionesco’s theater, artistic expressions such as the painting “The Scream” by Edvard Münch, the literature and the lifestyle of intellectuals such as Camus and Sartre were faithful mirrors reflecting the alienation, the despair and the perplexity, all experiences of our modern life. They had no valid and satisfying solution to offer for the complexity of increasingly insurmountable problems. The influence of their promising modern ideologies and philosophies have only produced a bitter fruit poisoning the existence of a humanity close to her last sigh.

However, there is another sigh that comes out of the depth of the human being. In Ecclesiastes 3:11, the wise King Solomon declares that “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity [the desire for or the thought, concept or essence of eternity] in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

It is the act of sighing or panting that best expresses this absolutely essential need of a human being suffering from separation in the search for his creator who alone can satisfy his deepest need. (“As the deer pants or sigh for the water, so my soul longs after you.”)

The Lord God is the Father (Creator) of the spirits of all mankind (Acts 17:25), and he wants to guide us by his Word, by the sound of his voice on our way back to our eternal home. In Numbers 27:15-18, “Moses said to the LORD, ‘May the LORD, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the LORD’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.’ So the LORD said to Moses, ‘Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him.'”

Before one can go out, before knowing freedom, one has to find the door to go in that leads to liberty, to eternal life, to our destination. Who is this man, this guide? What is this door; where can it be found? So many questions, so many sighs!

What about you, my reader, my friend? Are you asking yourself these same questions? Do you know these deep sighs that will only be fully satisfied with a response that would fill the deepest part of your soul?

God knows your thoughts even before they are formed in your brain. In fact, it is he who is seeking you. He is just waiting for you to sigh; he understands the burdens that we all bear.

Jesus invites you: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Ozymandias of Egypt

(Delusion of Grandeur)

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip and sneer of old command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings.
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away. – Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792-1822

The Stairway to Nowhere

Well then, my friend, did you sigh

Last night while falling asleep:

Or are you feeling like this king

Master of his domain

Following his own whim?

What drives you and leads you?

Your castle made of cards

So patiently constructed

Can in a single night

Become an abandoned ruin,

A no-man’s land where children

Laugh and play without worrying

About why and how

Such an accomplishment

Such a beautiful edifice

With a proud and tall stairway

Is left to lie, forgotten

In the great hour glass,

The hallway of memories

Lost forever

In the labyrinth of the past.

“For whoever wants to save their life [or soul] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Matthew 16:25-26).

Come with me if you want, if today you have lost the hope of finding the key to the exit door that leads to life.

Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).


One day, in blind ignorance,

A man stumbles over a stone,

The first step of a stairway

That leads to the most high place.

In haste, without pause,

At the cross road between light and darkness

Pride opens his mouth and mocks the stepping stone

Calling it a stumbling block.

Then, further deceived by his lack of understanding

He turns around indignant and walks away

From the Rock that Love placed there

To help him on his journey.

So, tonight, don’t forget to sigh. It’s as natural as crying or laughing. It is the others who do not like to hear the complaints of our souls. You have to understand them. They do not know how to take them. A sigh, as soon as it is released, flies off upward like sparks from a campfire in the night. But someone is listening and hears you. If you persist, he will answer.

So long, and take care. I hope to meet you at the desert gate.



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