Desert Sun – A Poem on Faith

Arizona Desert

sonoran desert sunset © 2012 Bo Mackison

“There is not a particle of life which does not bear poetry within it” ~ Gustave Flaubert

I shield my eyes from the intensity of burning desert sun
desert heat rises and
sears my soul my
searching soul
seeking light that surrounds but is not seen.

I sink into the sand-earth
earth carved hollow from desiccated cactus roots,
disappeared thigh deep into the desert underground and
imagine rattlesnake burrows and packrat middens in the seconds
it takes for me to pull myself onto firm ground.

Terra firma.
Be not distraught.

The sun drops off the edge of the world and
night slips in quietly to
settle on my shoulders, oh the
star shimmer that lights the way
it stuns me, evokes cries of praise from my
oft-silenced voice.

I have journeyed long
endless cycle of sunrises and sunsets
the ascent and descent of countless moons

Now a multitude of stars light the heavens
milky streams of light
and with faith bound tight in starlight

I await the return of the sun.


Celebrating Poetry Month by posting (daily) from my collection of desert poetry, mostly mine, but with a few desert classics added to mix. Mining old blog post, journals, margins of desert-themed books, crumpled pieces of notebook paper in my desk drawer, and other places of possibility.

Choosing my Word for the Year using Desert Wisdom Cards — Part I

Desert Wisdom Cards Set III

Desert Wisdom Cards © 2014 Bo Mackison

Every year for the last six years i have chosen a word for the coming year – a word to guide me, inspire me, encourage me.

In choosing a word for the coming year, I first looked up my words I’ve chosen the last six years – Show Up, Balance, Possibilities, Weaving, Soul-centered, and Wisdom. Some of those words played more significant roles than others, especially the words WEAVING from 2012 and WISDOM from this year, but I always place each year’s word in a prominent place on my desk.

To pick a word for 2015, I pulled three of my Desert Wisdom Cards to help guide me. The cards pulled at random were:


Visibility – A Desert Wisdom Card © 2014 Bo Mackison


  • This is a word I have struggled with much of my life. I see that I used a similar word, SHOW UP, in 2009. I have made progress in this area – from doing art to claiming my role as artist, from creating art in the privacy of my studio to doing nationally juried art fairs and festivals, from making personal books to creating a series of Desert Wisdom Cards, and offering three different sets for sale while also creating and giving workshops based on them.
  • None of this was done without struggle, and there were times when I hunkered down and didn’t show my face for weeks (or even months) at a time. But I have made discernible progress in the process of becoming more VISIBLE, in SHOWING UP.
  • Since it is still something I do with difficulty and much encouraging self talk, it is well worth considering that my word for the coming year would advance my goal of being VISIBLE.



Clarity – A Desert Wisdom Card © 2014 Bo Mackison


  • Lucid, clear in thought, focused. Only in extra-ordinary moments do I capture the clarity I seek – the flow of my creative vision, the words coming together to state my full intentions, the awareness of my place in a tiny part of my world.
  • I tend to wander, find my bearings by examining lots of alternatives, so zeroing in on one clear goal has always been a challenge, improbable and infrequent.
  • Yet, I wish for clarity in vision and I can create small practices towards that goal.



Delight – A Desert Wisdom Card © 2014 Bo Mackison


  • Of all the cards in the Desert Wisdom Card Set, DELIGHT is one of two cards that make me cringe when I pull it as my card for the day. (The other card that throws me is BEAUTY!)
  • Given that response, a response which I choose to notice, how might I infuse the coming year with more instances that provoke/encourage DELIGHT?
  • DELIGHT is a spontaneous feeling. When I look at the past year, I experienced DELIGHT, especially when stunned by stark natural beauty or  greatly amused by the antics of my one year old granddaughter or my best dog, Gracie.
  • Hard to plan for DELIGHT, but easily noticed when it bubbles to the surface. Perhaps I need to hold the intention, then, to be more aware of DELIGHT in my daily life.

Taking all of this into consideration, my practices for 2015 will include furthering my personal work of showing up and being visible, adding small steps to gain clarity and focus, and paying attention to that which provokes delight in my life.

In Part II, I’ll examine choosing my word of the year in terms of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and trans-personal aspects.

And I’ll choose my word for the year.

Do you choose a word for the year? Share your process and/or your word in the comments, if so inspired.




Desert Wisdom Cards, Series III — An Invitation!


Invitation – A Desert Wisdom Card

Step into my world, a world where the beauty and diversity of the desert is portrayed in photographs.

I invite you to look around. Be inspired.

Discover the desert and the incredible opportunities for sharing her wisdom.

I have selected a special set of eighteen photographs and coupled each photo with a single word for reflection, meditation, or as a journal prompt. I invite you to have a look at the Desert Wisdom Cards, Series III.

Desert Wisdom Cards Set III

Desert Wisdom Cards Set III © 2014 Bo Mackison

Announcing the Desert Wisdom Cards – Series III

After many more months of photographing the Sonoran Desert in the Southwest, choosing themes and cards that “spoke to me”, and then creating a new deck of cards and portfolio, the Desert Wisdom Cards – Series III are ready for you to enjoy.

These cards were not a part of my original creative plan, and yet, here they are.

As I wrote when I completed the second series, it was not my original plan to create a deck of only desert-focused cards. I’d planned a set of nature-based cards that included four themes – desert, shore, prairie, and mountain – plus a set of source cards the combined sets based on the template of a tarot deck.

I completed the first series of Desert Cards last October, and began to create the prairie cards. But the spark wasn’t there yet. I still have the photographs, I have the themes and concepts, but there was a strong need and desire to complete the desert set before considering a prairie set. And so I created the Desert Wisdom Cards – Second Series last March.

Still the desert called.

Today the third series of Desert Wisdom Cards is ready.  With this set, the series is complete.

Desert Wisdom Cards Set III

Desert Wisdom Cards Set III – Portfolio Shown with 4 of the 18 Cards © 2014 Bo Mackison

What are Desert Wisdom Cards?

The Desert Wisdom Cards – Series III are a set of 18 hand-made cards used for reflection and inspiration. Each card has a photograph of the awe-inspiring Sonoran Desert and a single word for contemplation, reflection, or as a prompt for journal writing.

The card set is now available in a hand crafted, limited edition of 26, numbered and signed.

How were the Desert Wisdom Cards first created?

I created all three sets of Desert Wisdom Cards for use during my morning routine, focusing on the photograph for inspiration and reflection. I also use the cards as prompts for journal writing and as a springboard for art and nature projects.

While working with my desert photographs, I discovered that the process allowed me to use my art for daily reflection,  problem solving and goal setting.

The cards became a framework to consider choices, make plans, and instigate changes in life — while providing structure for an in-depth creative practice.

Click here for more information on the Desert Wisdom Cards

Desert Wisdom Cards - Series II

Sampling of Covers of the Limited Edition Sets ©2014 Bo Mackison

How to use Desert Wisdom Cards:

They are perfect to use as a mini-set for meditation, inspiration and contemplation. A few useful suggestions include:

  • Choose a daily card as a focus card during meditation.
  • Choose a card as a journal or art prompt.
  • Enrich your spiritual practice through contemplation of the desert and nature.
  • Inspire and nurture your creative muse.
  • Use a three card spread, similar to a Tarot spread, and consider past, present, and future.
  • Other Tarot style spreads are easily used with the Desert Wisdom Cards.
  • Use a card for writing practice, considering symbols, metaphors and other elements found in the photo and inspired by the card’s single word.

Of course, these are only suggestions. As you work with the cards you will find your own unique ways to incorporate the cards into your practice, routine, or ritual.

Desert Wisdom Cards - Series II

Desert Wisdom Cards – Series III ©2014 Bo Mackison

Set Specifications:

The Desert Wisdom Card set includes 18 cards, storage portfolio, and four page user’s guide. The cards also fit in the four flap portfolio that comes with the original set.

A desert-hued portfolio complements the cards.

This set of cards comes in a hand decorated folded portfolio, similar to the portfolio for the Second Series. Each portfolio is hand decorated with ink, acrylics and metallic paint. Designed in the color palette of the desert, the folder is unique and a mini-work of art in itself.

A four page guide is also included in the set.

This guide offers suggestions for using the cards, including activities that focus on the body, mind and spirit. Also included in the booklet is information on the evolution of the cards and additional resources for nature and art related activities.

Special thanks to James Wells who graciously shared his method of delving deeply into tarot cards using multiple activities for body, mind and spirit. What a great resource this was, as I adapted many of his activities for the Desert Wisdom Card guide-book.

The cards are 7.5 inches by 4.5 inches. Each card features a color photograph of the Sonoran Desert and a single word for reflection.

Each card is printed on a cylinder letterpress, type set by hand, and printed using a vintage (1940s) Vandercook No.3 Letterpress.

The cards come in a hand crafted, folding portfolio. Each portfolio is embellished with ink, acrylics and metallic paint. Designed in the color palette of the desert, the folder is unique and a mini-work of art in itself.

Click here for more information on the Desert Wisdom Cards

Desert Wisdom Cards - Series II

Detail of Desert Wisdom Cards Portfolio ©2014 Bo Mackison

How to Purchase a Set of Desert Wisdom Cards?

The Desert Wisdom Cards – Set III are now available in my Etsy shop.

$55.00 for set of 18 cards, tie portfolio, and guide-book.

The Third Series completes a 56 card deck when combined with Series I and Series II.

Set II is also available on Etsy.

And a thank you!

It is indeed a privilege to share my Wisdom Cards with you. Thank you.





Patience – A Desert Wisdom Card

Patience © 2014 Bo Mackison

“Patience is not passive resignation, nor is it failing to act because of our fears. Patience means active waiting and enduring. It means staying with something and doing all that we can – working, hoping, and exercising faith; bearing hardship with fortitude, even when the desires of our hearts are delayed. Patience is not simply enduring; it is enduring well!  ~ Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Patience. Certainly a wisdom gift of the desert. Certainly a quality required when one is actually walking/living/being in the desert, and for those desert-like times when life feels arid and silent, or overwhelming and fragmented.

I love this photograph, a photo taken at Mission San  Xavier del Bac, a mission church in southern Arizona built in the 1700s. The church took decades to build by hand with primitive tools.

There were no supplies of paint or marble or fabric. Even the wood had to be hauled from a distance of twenty miles.  They built the walls with lime-kiln clay. They carved statues from wood and dyed them brilliant colors using both native dyes and imported gilding. They carved shells, roping, and drapery-like sculptures for windows ornamentation and the choir.  They painted wall murals and patterned arches. They sculpted a baptismal font and painted it to look like marble.

Works of art that required patience and determination, and which are still in use, and honored by the present day parishioners.

“A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.” ~ Henri J.M. Nouwen

In the photo, I stand in the shadows.

Waiting. Watching. Questioning.

Listening to the Silence.

Practicing patience.

Seeking Wisdom in the Desert


Center © 2014 Bo Mackison

I lose my center. I feel dispersed, scattered, in pieces. I must have time alone in which to mull over any encounter, and to extract its juices, its essence, to understand what has really happened to me as a consequence of it. ~ May Sarton

When I hear the words “in the desert”:..

… I think it is time to make choices and live with the consequences; to accept who I am, and feel grateful for the opportunity to live in solitude; to follow a contemplative path; to focus on the positives while being aware of the negatives; to look up at the desert sky and connect with the stars.

What I most yearn for “in the desert”…

… a warmth that spreads from outside to inside; to develop tolerance and strength when dealing with stressors; to feel totally alive, embracing each moment.

What I fear while I’m “in the desert”…

…while I know I will make mistakes, may they be mistakes I can learn from; may they cause no harm to others; may the challenges prove fruitful.

Intention is the power of the experience. ~ Cynthia Gale

What I hope for “in the desert”…

…that I will develop courage to see me through my days, and through the long nights, too; that I will make choices that are true to myself; that I will choose life-enhancing while avoiding life-depleting practices.


A journaling technique I sometimes use, asking and answering repetitive questions with just a change of one word. I considered my relationship with the desert and then incorporated the words hear, yearn, fear, and hope into questions. It provided just enough of a container to direct my thoughts and writing.