Death Valley Walkabout ~ Ubehebe Crater

Two months ago I went on 7-day solo walkabout in Death Valley. There were days of defiance, days of sorrow, and days of being still and knowing God through absence.

As I walked the interconnected rims of Ubehebe Crater, I thought of the many circles of return I’ve lived, through a lifetime of relationships…

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.

I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years
and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?

~ Rilke from The Book of Hours (Love Poems to God)

One of my favorite theologians is Karl Barth. He wrote in 1922, between the World Wars. Barth argued that the God who is revealed in the cross of Jesus challenges and overthrows any attempt to ally God with human cultures, achievements, or possessions. We can not know God through this world. The new world of the Holy Spirit touches the old world of the flesh, but touches it as a tangent touches a circle, that is, without touching it.

In other words the point of intersection between God and humanity is that of a crater left after an explosion (Christ being the explosion).

The concept of knowing God’s presence not in the midst of the void but as the VOID itself comforts me. Maybe because there is a kind of evidence in absence. It’s easy to GET this in Death Valley.

Death Valley IS the living image of God’s presence in absence. Being still here I felt God with me, all around me, holding me, assuring me through the psalms that…

God stays near broken hearts – and heals the wounded spirit

The Empty Tomb, 1996  / Leaven, 1994 ~ by Sherri Lynn wood ~  SouthEastern Center For Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, NC
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10 Responses to Death Valley Walkabout ~ Ubehebe Crater

  1. shannon says:

    heartfelt post. beautiful. thank you for sharing.

    those quilts are also *amazing* works of art. the empty tomb is so powerful to me…i can feel it.

    thank you again.

  2. lola says:

    Sherri, the book where i saw first your quilt is “Art quilts. A celebration” from Lark Books. I opened page 280 and there is “The Empty Tomb” .I like more this photo in your blog because the bright colors around the black look brighter than in the book (quite dark )so the contrast is stronger and more playful.
    This quilt and the Prayer Banners (MERCI) i found emotionally powerful. Thank you

  3. lola says:

    Hi Sherri,

    Thank you for those photos; seeing them i understand better your experience there.
    I like what you wrote about God being the VOID itself and finding comfort in it. It makes me think there is no reason to be afraid of solitude. Also your quilt “The empty thomb” (seeing in a National Quilt book) looks to me as a reminder of God’s eye and right in the center the black hole of the universe given birth to every creation in the universe.
    It could be, this quilt, in a church!.

  4. Heather says:

    Beautiful thoughtful post. The spiritual aspect you encompass in your life and work is inspiring and profound.

  5. Jeff P says:


    Your reflections and insight are touching. I hate to say it, but Dr. Pacini would be proud of his Theology Student.

    I hope you are well ,


  6. Sandy says:

    I am in awe at what you did. Not sure if I could do a solo for one day, let alone seven. Thanks for sharing your story, it touched my heart. Now for your quilts. I can’t find the words that would do them justice. I love them. You have been blessed with an amazing talent.

  7. Sheila says:

    I love love love your post… and those quilts are out of this world.


    Peace and Love, -sheila

  8. Jo says:

    Thank you for such a beautiful sharing. The Rilke quote of circling to find divinity gave me goosebumps. I’m currently working on mandalas in my own work so this resonates. So glad to hear your time in Death Valley brought you some peace.

  9. alison says:

    Love these quilts!

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