The Joshua tree was named by Mormons in the 1850s, who thought they saw their prophet pointing to the promised land. I wonder what it would feel like to see prophets and omens in the landscape. “God is not interested in our theology but only in our silence,” writes Cormac McCarthy in The Passenger, which restates Psalm 46:10 from a human point of view: “Be still and know that I am God.”

Stillness has been in short supply these days, and I’m trying to puzzle out the relationship between peace and growth. Does growth require pain? Or at least some degree of tension? I have yet to hear someone say their life was bursting with love and tranquility and they couldn’t count all the money in the bank and that’s when they decided to get spiritualized.