Grant, we pray, Almighty God, that as we believe your only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into heaven, so we may also in heart and mind there ascend, and with him continually dwell; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

— Book of Common Prayer

The photos show Ascension Day festivities hosted today by the Rev. Canon David Caffrey at his Desert Journeys Retreat Center in Twentynine Palms, in the high desert climes of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

A brilliant liturgist (the first photo shows just part of his library on the Daily Office alone) and preacher, Canon David brought the Ascension back down to earth for us as the moment the Risen Christ defied time and space so he could be welcomed in every heart and hearth. Twenty of us from around the dioceses of San Diego and Los Angeles were aboard, including for Canon David’s delicious potluck BBQ after church. Regulars the Rev. Peggy Ventris, vicar of St Martin’s, 29 Palms, who read the gospel, and Kenneth E. Ventris brought the cook a new apron.

Nestled along the border between Twentynine Palms and Joshua Tree, the retreat center can accommodate small groups overnight. Guests have access to the chapel, library, a kitchen, and peerless views of the desert and mountains.

It all started nearly 40 years ago when Canon David took pilgrims to worship and camp at Patton’s Altar, used by faithful soldiers training for desert warfare during World War II.