Lost in the Desert

by George Albert Leddy

Well, I never was much of a man to pray;
From churches and preachers, I kept away.
And I used to laugh when they talked ‘bout Hell.
What do they know of the things they tell?
When a man is dead, well, he’s dead for good;
Same as the flowers, or pieces of wood.
But I changed my mind, and I’ll tell you why;
When I thought that my time had come to die.

Twenty mules with the strength of one;
Struggling along ‘neath the devilish sun.
Off’in the trail for mor’in a mile,
And gettin’ farther all the while.
The water all gone, and the feed is low,
And the mules are weak, and can scarcely go;
And I cut each strap, and I said good-bye;
And let them wander away to die.

Now, here is the thing that is strange to tell
Of a man who didn’t believe in Hell.
How I knelt in the sand, and I tried to pray;
But I had forgotten the words to say.
My tongue was swollen, my throat was dry,
But I raised my arms to the distant sky,
And I prayed to God to remember me;
To let me die, and set me free.

Well, the desert sun, it was sinking low;
And I saw in the distance, hills aglow;
Tinted with sun-rays, clear and cool;
And waters that sparkled in a pool;
Valleys of green with a rippling stream.
God, is it real or only a dream?
But something strange, and I know not what,
Kept urging me on, and I could not stop.

Never before were the skies so blue;
Never before such brilliant hue.
Then came the night with its stars so bright;
Never before had there been such a sight.
The vision would fade, and on every hand,
Not, but an ocean of burning sand.
Then I’d try to stand, but I’d only fall;
Lay on my belly and try to crawl.

Crawl like the lizards and rattlesnakes;
Crawl through the sands ‘till my belly bakes.
Morning at last and the buzzards come;
Circling low in the desert sun;
Casting their shadows from the sky;
Watching and waiting for me to die;
Ever and ever, circling lower;
Devils of Hell and nothing more.

Do you know what it’s like to be all alone
When the sun’s so hot that the deserts moan;
With the visions of forests on far distant hills
With it’s valleys of green and rippling rills?
Do you know how it feels when it’s moving away;
Ever and ever, so far and so far?
Well, if you don’t, then you best stay away;
For miseries reign where the desert sands are.

Then out of the hot sands like a fool,
Stumbled a weary, trail-worn mule.
One of my leaders; he’d always been
Trustiest mule in my whole damn team.
Water he’d found where he had been;
Stumbling back to carry me in.
Laugh if you will, I don’t give a damn,
But I’d trust that mule where I wouldn’t a man!

Now, that is the reason you find me today
Here in this pulpit to beg you to pray.
“Sky Pilot” they call me, but men I have been
A skinner of mules and a lover of sin.
I’ve drank, and I’ve gambled; had women galore;
But I’ve learned my lesson, and those days are o’er;
For God heard my prayers, and He sent back that mule
To save a poor sinner who’d been a damned fool.