We have just returned from the retirement service of our friend, Commander Michael Shockley who has served over thirty years as a chaplain with the Navy, Marines, and Special Forces.
My husband, also a retired Navy Chaplain, was the guest speaker. The ceremony with the Side Boys (honor guard) and the shrill Boatswain’s Pipe (“Bosun’s) with the call of “Going Ashore” for the last time was quite impressive. There was a presentation of a shadow box showing his medals of service including the military’s high honor of Meritorious Service and the Bronze Star. It was a proud moment for him and his family, who had waited at home during many of his deployments. Congratulations, Commander Shockley, for a job well done.
As the pictures of Commander Shockley’s life as a chaplain were shown on a large screen in the church, I took special note of the shots of his time in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some of them were almost invisible because of the desert sand in the air. My thoughts were of how difficult breathing would be in this environment. Some say it is “Stinging, blinding, dark, dirty”. Only those who have experienced it, will know. Even our war in the Middle East was called “Desert Storm”
This led me to research what the Desert Wall ( or wall of sand) is like. I remember flying over the Gobi Desert twice when I went to Mongolia as an educator and missionary. It is a foreboding sight with miles of golden layers. “NOT a place to land a plane!” ran through my mind.
This satellite photograph was shot over the Taklamakan Desert in China on April 29, 2011. The size of this sand storm is gigantic. The dust is thick enough to completely hide the desert floor.
The Taklamakan Desert of China sits in the Tarim Basin, between the mountain ranges of
the Tian Shan in the north and the Kunlun Shan in the south. The Taklamakan is China’s largest and hottest desert.
Breathing is not the only problem for humans on our planet. The great sand storms also are a cause of what is called desertization. This is the movement, or creeping, of the desert into areas that are inhabited or are fertile. This is bad news for it may affect over 140 nations of the world. A third of the world’s population is adjacent to desert areas. This includes sub-Saharan Africa, China, and central Asian countries, which could eventually be displaced by the sand’s migration into their land, destroying farmland and other habitats.
It is hard for those of us in Florida to imagine these problems as we see our lush, green foliage and enjoy inches of refreshing rain in just hours. The residents of Phoenix, Arizona experienced the great wall of sand just this month. (See video of this below) The people of America experienced the great Dust Bowl of the 1930’s (Coming in a future writing)
For the most part, nature is uncontrollable. We know this when the hurricanes hit our shores or the great tornadoes roll over the land. What we do know is ” Our lives and the earth are fragile…handle with care and with prayer”.
View a video of a dust storm experience. Turn off the sound if you’d rather not hear the strange music. Time lapse in Phoenix, July 5, 2011