They say, wherever the man goes, wolves follow. Whether along the path to the house he built of rocks and stones or through the small plots he nurtures of corn, rice, and beans, or on the way to the unfinished chapel he labors over day and night, you’ll see two of his oldest friends trailing at a respectful distance. In the morning and at sunset, all three are ringed by desert light.
It was only a matter of time, they say, before other creatures grew curious. Now at dawn, large hares come out of hiding and stop to watch as the man passes by. Birds alight on the saguaro trees – birds you’d be surprised to see in a desert, like swallows and doves – and they tuck in their feathers and tilt their heads, observing as he works the hard soil with calloused hands.
Once, they say, even a mountain lion appeared, and although ravenous for anything living, she neither stalked nor pounced upon the man and his circle of followers. The lion just lay in the shadow of a tree, yawned, and lowered her head upon crossed paws like a house cat preparing for a nap. And all the while, the man kept building his chapel, placing stone upon stone, trusting that a force beyond his understanding ran through all living things, linking each to each, like an endless strand of a rosary on which to devote a lifetime of prayer.