Beauty – A Desert Wisdom Card

Two Poppies

Mexican Poppies © 2013 Bo Mackison

 “Beauty nurtures the soul by serving the spirit.
Beauty takes you out of your cramped,
merely personal worries and sets you down in a field of eternity.”
~ Thomas Moore in Dark Nights of the Soul

In the desert, the appearance of the ephemeral wildflowers in a time of joyous observation.

These rugged flowers only bloom following a unique set of conditions — enough rain throughout early winter, warm enough temperatures to allow for germination and growth, no cold spells that might kill delicate seedlings. There are so many factors that lead to a brilliant display of desert wildflowers that a peak bloom happens only once or twice a decade.

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it. ~ Confucius

Nonetheless, a few wildflowers can always be found – in a rocky, dry wash, in the cooler higher elevations, near bushes and trees which afford the flowers enough protection. While a mountain slope clothed in swaying poppies is spectacular, so are a half-dozen plucky blossoms that found growing space in a rocky crevice. And perhaps a ragged flower clinging to the side of a cliff, tenacious and reaching towards the sunlight, is the most beautiful flower of them all.

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

BEAUTY offers questions/reflections for journal, art prompts, and calls to action:

  • Desert wildflowers require specific conditions in order to come into blossoms of beauty. What are some of the conditions that might be necessary for your inner beauty to burst into blossom?
  • Although it is not necessary to search for a special place to find beauty, there are spaces and sites designed by man or formed by nature, which evoke deep feelings of appreciation. Spend some time strolling through a sculpture garden, viewing a scenic overlook on a stretch of familiar highway, or enjoying a backyard flower bed.
  • Take a few minutes to notice your response to beauty. Does it offer you calm, encouragement, comfort, inspiration, rejuvenation, grounding? Can you replicate those emotions by observing beauty in your world?
  • Georgia O’Keeffe was a prolific painter and most people are aware of her larger than life floral and still life paintings. Many of her most popular painting were of flowers, but she created many other paintings – skulls, desert landscapes, missions. She painted abstracts, used bright colors, focused on a small part of the whole. Her paintings are infused with her spirit, they are not a duplicate of what she saw. She broke many rules of the art world she lived in, but had the fearlessness and independence to paint in her unique style. Examine a website or book of O’Keeffe’s paintings. Then apply her painting philosophy to any art medium you wish to explore. Dare. Be different. Make up your own rules. How does this freedom affect your attitude towards art in general, your process, your end product?
  • Make  space in your life for the appreciation of beauty. Does a cluttered environment obstruct a basket of flowers or the gleaming hardwood floors in your home? Does a cluttered schedule take precedence over an impromptu stop to listen to the early morning cacophony of birdsong or watch clouds float across the sky?


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC.  Bo is creating a deck of Desert Wisdom Cards for self-exploration and discovery using her photography and the Sonoran Desert theme – its myths and stories, cultures and history, and the desert’s remarkable natural beauty and resources.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. We always made it a point to camp way back in the desert when the poppies were in bloom. I wonder how much of that kind of freedom remains now. Those were wonderful times!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      I been in a few of the wilderness sites, but have to register for those, just like a campground site. There’s backpacking, but that’s out of my league. 🙂 Bet camping way back was truly memorable.

  2. Beautiful image Bo would love to photograph in the desert someday !!

  3. Such wonderful prompts, Bo! I especially love the first one about the conditions I need for my inner beauty to blossom. A lot to think about there.

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