The Joshua Tree, A Desert Parable Chps 2-3 of 5 :: By Jean-Louis Mondon

The Joshua Tree, A Desert Parable: Chapters 2-3 of 5

For Chapter One, go to

Chapter Two

The Encounter

Just when the desired goal of shutting out all external stimuli has been achieved, or so he thought, a warm voice shook him out of his altered state of consciousness. In spite of its gentle tone, the voice triggered a reflex that rippled throughout his body, caused by the unexpectedness of his breaking the silence barrier.

“Welcome to the desert; I was waiting for you, and here you are just on time,” the unexpected voice said. These words gripped his heart with an uncontrollable anxiety.

That’s it, our lost traveler spoke to himself, thinking he was alone. Either I am waking up from a terrible nightmare, or I am in the throes of delirium just before dying of thirst, of a heatstroke and madness. First, dementia sets in, indicating a decreased blood circulation to the brain.

But then, what if this were real? He continued his monologue, arguing with all the motivation of his survival instinct. After all nobody enjoys dying alone. What if? In a desperate attempt to maintain a grasp on reality, he squinted with his deficient eyes to focus on the fuzzy image standing in front of him.

“No, you are not going to die, I assure you. As long as there is life there is hope,” the strange voice continued.

“Easy for you to say. You should try being in my place.” The lost man uttered these words without realizing the weirdness of the situation.

“Yes, I understand,” the reply came back – giving the confused man the sensation of playing a solitary mind game of paddle ball, having heard this cliché so many times before – “but I was in your situation before. This is why I am here with you. Perhaps one day you will be in my place after you meet my Master.”

The mere mention of that word “master” jolted him back from his distraction, the match getting more challenging to his overblown ego.

“No thanks! Me, submit to a master. It’s been a long time since I have been out of school. Who do you see in front of you? A child who needs to be taught? Have you ever heard of pulling yourself up by your own boot straps? And God helps those who help themselves?”

“Indeed, those are wonderful, comforting words. But let me introduce myself: Joshua, guardian and desert guide. How about you?”

“Mine is Theophilus McCall.”

“What a beautiful name! Do you know its meaning?”

“No, my parents named me at my baptism.”

“Nice meeting you, Theophilus. Well, it’s getting late. Why not continue our conversation tomorrow? You really need some sleep. Good night.”

Chapter Three

Welcome to The Home of Mirages and The Horned Viper

“Whoever digs a pit may fall into it; whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake” (Ecclesiastes 10:8).

“Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment; and a babbler is no better” (Eccl 10:11, KJV).

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation… You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see” (Revelation 3:14, 17-18).


Early in the morning, Theophilus wakes up grumpy. After a night of disturbing dreams, he gets up; and through his barely opened eyelids, he is able to make out the fuzzy silhouette of a strange vision cut out on the background of an intense blue sky. Refusing to believe his weakened eye sight, he rubs his eyes, trying to get a better focus on the scene.

“Good morning Theophilus. I hope you had a good night sleep.”

Now, he couldn’t believe what he heard. There, at only a few feet distance, planted in the desert sand, what appeared to be a tree, or more exactly, a cactus, stood up, resembling the ones he had seen in the science books of his childhood.

Completely taken aback, his first reaction is to think, It is not happening. If I told my family and my friends, they would lock me up in a psychiatric ward. I must be hallucinating or I am seeing a mirage.

“Calm down,” reassured Joshua, who could perceive his state of mind; “You are not going crazy. You can tell that I am real, can’t you? Are you bothered by my talking? Of course, it is a bit unnerving; your world is different, and I can understand your reaction.”

Relieved that, after all, he was not crazy – who wants to look for lost marbles in the middle of the sandy desert floor without help from anyone? Theophilus replied: “Are you joshing me,” spontaneously blurting some of the humor he thought he had lost? “As if it were natural to accept that a Joshua tree has the gift of speech, that he could care about a man and discuss things about which he does not have the slightest idea.”

Then, he remembered the preceding night’s conversation and blushed in shame at the thought that he had carried on a conversation with a cactus in the desert. He had a furtive glance around to make sure that nobody had been a witness to this absurdly surreal scene.

Josh: “You are right. I like to kid around. Well, then. Tell me the story of your life. I see you are passionate about travel adventures, trying to find yourself. And how are you going to know if you finally found yourself if, in the first place, you don’t know who you are and what you look like?”

Theo: “Hey, watch it! You start annoying me. What about you? What do you look like? You can be proud of yourself; you found yourself, indeed, didn’t you? What a beautiful place to spend the rest of your life! Congratulations! Your master must be very proud of you. Tell me again, why can’t you speak clearly like everyone else?”

“Because you don’t have enough wisdom to understand the words of my master,” Josh replied. “But you are right. He is the one who gave me this responsibility which I am handling in the best way and also keeping his words. One day, when you meet him, you will understand.”

“I knew it! It is you who are incapable of intelligent reasoning. You are hiding behind someone else´s teaching. You cannot even have an original thought.”

“Ouch; touché! But I forgive you. You have lost your way; you are not seeing clearly because your center of vision comes from Lao Di Sé. A little bit of good compensates for and balances evil. You believed in their remedies for your illness, didn’t you? Well, you can see the result. Now you see double!”

“It’s not true! I didn’t drink anything, I assure you.”

“It’s not a question of drinking. On your way, did you meet a sand viper with two horns that lies in wait for its victims and poisons them surreptitiously? The poison weakens their vision until they become incapable of telling the difference between reality and their own erroneous perceptions. For example, they are poor but believe that they are rich; they think that darkness is light and are convinced that evil is good. The worst part is that they don’t realize that they are deceived because of the serpent’s power with his subtlety and his many disguises.”

“Rubbish! All this is philosophy! As for me, I have more pressing needs. I want to get out of this blasted desert to go back to my world where the cacti don’t talk nonsense about spells on people in dire need of real help.”

“Well, then, Theo, I am ready to help you. Where are you going? What are you looking for?”

“Come on, Josh, it’s obvious! I want to go back where I come from, and I am looking for the exit door.”

“Yes, of course; they all say the same thing. But there is a slight hitch; here as you know, we are in the desert. This is a very different place. People that are lost need a guide. But there is no way back; and to get out of the desert, one has to go, not through an exit door, for no such door exists, but through an entrance doorway. This is why my Master placed me on your path.”

“Not again, please. Josh, you are not going to bother me with your master. What can he do for me? Sell me a camel or a flying carpet? Or offer me a lamp with a genie inside? Does he live in an oasis nearby where he sells maps of the desert?”

“None of it. And by the way, the camel is too big, and the entrance door is very small. And He is the one who has the keys. He does not sell anything, but He alone can satisfy your thirst and your hunger, and give you new clothes that do not wear out. Moreover, he can heal you of your disease and restore your sight so that you will not lose your way again.”

“Stop making fun of me, Josh. Nobody is that generous a giver. There is no freebie in this world. Everything has a price; that’s the law. I simply need to gain my strength back and find a pharmacy where I can buy some salve for my eyes that are irritated instead of becoming a mere desert souvenir, a broken statue sculpted by this blasted sand.”

“I am afraid that your condition is a little more serious than you think. But you are not well enough yet to meet my Master. Get some rest in my shade; and, later, I will take care of your heart which right now is your most urgent concern. We will continue our chat once you feel better. Tomorrow, you will meet my brother who will help you find the Master of the Joshua trees.”

My friends, take care until our next encounter.



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