My wife, Frankie and I took a drive through Death Valley in California this past week. Due to the amazing, record breaking, amount of rain the desert is blooming. Flowers that only appear once in a generation are there now, along with millions of other flowers. It is surrounded by the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Death Valley is beautiful. Yellow, orange, and purple flowers dot the otherwise rough and rocky floor. The floor stretches into the foothills, still dotted with flowers and intermingled red-rock and craggy walls. These walls angle up to the mountains themselves, the gray-brown walls stretch higher and higher with their snow-topped peaks giving a sharp contrast to the deep blue sky. As we approach the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere in Badwater, CA we find a blue lake stretching for acres surrounded by white shores and reflecting the blues, whites, and grays of the surrounding mountains. You see a perfect mirror in the water so clear that you cannot tell where the real ends and the reflection begins. Beauty in this place.
I walked out on the white shore of the lake and bent down to touch the water. I dipped my finger into the crystal clear liquid and saw the ripples head out into the vast expanse. I brought my finger to my mouth and tasted the … worst, most retching, thing I have tasted in a long time. I like salt but that was way beyond salty – uber-salty, crazy-salty, mongo-salty. I was caught up in the beauty of the place forgetting that it was called DEATH Valley. No one could drink the water here and live. No one could survive the intense heat of the place for any period of time. Death Valley, Badwater, Furnace Creek; even the names tell you what kind of place this is. There are warnings not to walk out onto the salt flats in the summer time. There are warnings not to drink the water. There are warnings about how many miles before the next gas station or water stop. Warnings and Death in this place.
I have run into a lot of people like this. People who are absolutely beautiful on the outside but are dead on the inside; red warning flags seem to be flashing behind them. I have seen drugs, alcohol, gambling, and sex all promising beauty in ads with beautiful people showing beautiful packaging. The wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, talked about things that sparkle to the eye but bite like a snake, he talked about beauty being fleeting, and charm being deceptive. Beauty is only skin deep.