September 16, 2018

Book Review: Watching the Desert Bloom by William Langston

Image result for watching the desert bloom langstonEven the best of us have our faults. There may be no truer statement in human history than the simple assertion that, “Nobody’s perfect.” Moreover, we are generally unaware that our imperfections lead each of us to walk a tightrope every day of our lives. A single unfortunate event, whether we are victim or offender, can easily cause a fall which could have life-shattering consequences.

Such is the case in the life of author William Langston. In his book, Watching the Desert Bloom, Langston gives us a look inside the heart and mind of one whose life has been shipwrecked. The book is not a record of the events which led to his fall, but rather an account of the aftermath; a journey through the emotional landscape of a man who has, quite literally, lost everything.

This is not a book for your Saturday afternoon leisure. It is a tome more suited to meditative study and quiet reflection, to be consumed bit by bit on a regular basis. Each entry is brief, reading much like a daily devotional or, in many cases, a private journal. Langston presents his essays chronologically, enabling us to travel alongside him on a winding course through a turbulent emotional landscape. The journey begins with the shock and despair the author experienced as he watched the life he once knew fade into the distance, finding himself stranded in (as he puts it) a desert: a place bereft of hope.

But all is not gloom and doom. There are glimmers of light and hope, even in our darkest moments. Langston captures these gems as well, placing them on display as they were found:  scattered amidst the ashes of a broken life. Here is a moment of quiet repose; there, a lesson taught by a wise mentor; and perhaps most importantly, embers of hope still aglow within the heart of a dreamer.

Many self-published books lack the “spit and polish” which one expects from a large publishing company, and Watching the Desert Bloom is no exception. But that ruggedness proves to be a benefit to the reader. We hear the authentic personal voice of a real human being, rather than the chrome-plated perfection of a team of editors. By the end, we might even imagine that we know the author personally, as we have been made intimately privy to his deepest thoughts, fears, hopes, and longings.

Many daily devotionals handle scriptural concepts on a surface-level, but fail to connect with deeper insight, simply due to the limitations of such a brief format. Watching the Desert Bloom pulls double-duty, providing a daily devotional time while simultaneously recording the continuing struggles and growth of one individual. If you’re looking for a devotional with an emphasis on personal application, you need look no further. This is it.

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