PechaKucha Presentation

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David Morrison

Spiritual Director, Desert Rain Community in Chaparral

Desolate Beauty: A Contemplation of the Desert


Contemplative writer David Morrison and Monk Drums (El Paso vol.11) creator Jacob Neria takes us on a journey of of sound, image, and spoken word celebrates a vision of desert spirituality.

As David explains, there is a beauty that can be experienced in the scarcity of desert if we come to it with contemplative eyes. The word, “contemplation,” in Latin, means to “gaze intently upon.” It’s possible to walk in desert landscapes and witness its emptiness until a stunning beauty arises. And further, this beauty begins to gaze into the beholder, and one is transformed forever. In the Irish language, “to contemplate,” means to place oneself at the “edge of waiting.” The desert is a liminal space on the edge of what’s familiar, and it draws and enchants those who dare to walk in its kenotic embrace.

The images are not professionally shot nature photos, but rather the simple snapshots of a lifelong desert walker. The haikus are not literary as much as they are experiential. Mary Oliver sums it up perfectly: "Every day I walk out into the world / to be dazzled, then to be reflective."

David Morrison and Jacob Neria are members of Desert Rain Community, a contemporary community of Christian contemplative monks located outside El Paso in Chaparral, NM.

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Crossing the Atacama Desert

@ VOL 9 ON JUN 26, 2013

Faisal Al-Nakib details his experience taking place in the Atacama Crossing desert foot race in Chile. He describes how the challenge helped him grow and learn more about himself while on his 250 km (155 mile) journey in one week.

"Presentation of the Day" on August 29, 2013.

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Food Desert

@ VOL 10 ON SEP 20, 2013

Retired electrician, Navy veteran, and community gardener Anthony Lee addresses the lack of fresh produce in New Orleans post Hurricane Katrina. With the encouragement of his beloved wife, Linette Williams Lee, and the help of the Tulane City Center and the Tulane School of Architecture, Lee engaged his community to build the Magellan Street Garden.

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From the Sonoran Desert to Bedford

@ VOL 2 ON JUN 05, 2014

Katrina Hassan tells her story of moving to Bedford from the Sonoran Desert. Expect tales of monsoon deserts, punk grandmothers, marriage, upcycling, textiles, giant pinatas, rubbish jobs, excellent baking, a cute garden and a rocking baby.

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Desert Rose

@ VOL 2 ON AUG 20, 2015

Julee Laurent-Clancy is the Director of Development for Therapeutic Equestrian Center. Julee grew up in Florida and Los Angeles, and has been a resident of St. Joe/Benton Harbor for 13 years. Traveling is not a hobby for Julee - it is a need. Her travels have taken her to Japan, Italy, Costa Rica, Belize, Spain and 40 of the United States. 

One day Julee decided to drive cross-country from Los Angeles to Florida, pick up her kids and let them meet the celebrities of Hollywood. She packed up her convertable and left in the dead of night. What happens when you're in the middle of the Mojave desert with an empty gas tank?

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Monk Drums

@ VOL 11 ON OCT 10, 2015

John Laweka presents the work of Monk Drums, drums locally crafted by the hands of the desert dwelling monks of Chaparral, NM.

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Drumming the World

@ VOL 2 ON AUG 27, 2016

Denys Vasyliev is a famous musician. Drums are his passion. His story is about his experience to discover other cultures via drums. He is travelling during the world and learning different drums. For him drums are the key for culture and rhythm is a way to understand all Universes. 

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Hand Drumming Is Fun and Good for You

@ VOL 10 ON FEB 28, 2017

Annalea Verchinsky talks about the benefits of hand drumming, which range from pure enjoyment to helping with relaxation, lowering blood pressure and reducing stress.

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Small moments of light (which create beauty)

@ VOL 14 ON MAR 06, 2018

Claire Rose presents a walk on the wild side...with light. 

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Desert encounters

@ VOL 23 ON APR 18, 2018

Chantal van Arensbergen met her guide through the desert: Ahmed, while traveling in Egypt. An unforgettable experience. This inspired her to set up desert encounters in Leiden and beyond. People experience moments of happiness in very different ways during those meetings. The money she raises is spent on the construction of the school that is being built in Ahmed’s oasis village.