Word Prompt: Assess | Story Prompt: from the book “Dance In The Desert” by Madeleine L’Engle

Write It Out: Instruction Video coming soon

“The desert is like the ocean. It takes time to get out of sight of land. And then suddenly there is nothing, nothing but waves of sand shifting and sliding in the wind, sand stretching out to eternity on every side. In the moonlight the fires and the tents and the camels make a small oasis for the travelers, and they draw in close, while the sands stir slowly around the caravan, spreading out into forever, and above them the stars break into distances beyond dreams.

“The child will be frightened,” one of the camel drivers said, and with his great, calloused hands began to plan upon a tiny reed pipe. A scrawny donkey boy ran into one of the tents and came out with an enormous horn, certainly heavier than he was, and managed to blow into it so that a braying squawk came out the end.

The little boy laughed and clapped with joy as he sat on the young man’s knee in the circle around the largest of the fires.

Outside the circle, from the edges of the dark, came a deep, sustained roar. The camel driver dropped his little pipe, his huge hand reaching for his knife. “It is a lion.”

The tremor of fear that ran through the group touched everybody except the child. He slid off the young man’s knees and walked on his still unsteady legs to the edge of the circle.”

***

I received this book from my parents when I was 14. I loved it then – the richly coloured illustrations, the dream-like quality of the writing, the mystery* of what was happening in the story. I still love this book for all of those reasons – but today when I reflect on the story prompt paired with the word prompt “assess”, I realize a new meaning, a new layer of the story’s truth for me, and I think it’s providing me with a new opportunity for the coming year, 2022.

Rather than a conditioned fear response, how about assessing for the possibility of receiving events with curiosity and even play? How about stopping the voice in my head that blurts out “hide!” and instead speaking slowly and softly to remove the fear and assess for possibilities of joy?

Isn’t it wonderful how books we’ve read and loved can continue to offer opportunities for us to learn and grow!

Thoughts? Feel free to share them here.

(*The story is a beautiful interpretation of the holy family’s flight to Egypt from Nazareth, to escape the wrath of King Herod.)

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