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From Native Americans to the early Christian monastics, the beauty and solitude of the desert has helped forge people's spiritual connections with the earth.

"When you're driving and you pass something beautiful, don't just keep going;" says Robert Vetter, citing the advice of Cheyenne Sun Dance priest Willie Fletcher, "Stop and leave an offering, such as a bit of food, to express your gratitude for passing through such a beautiful place."

When you do that, you're likely to get a sense of being more connected to the world around you. You start to realize you are part of a web that is linked to everything-animals, plants, even the elements-and that your physical and spiritual wellness depends on that web staying intact.

"Giving thanks helps repair the little tears in the web to restore that vital sense of interconnectedness-a sense that's missing from our dominant, mainstream society;" Vetter says.

"Native people who have the least seem to share the most and express the most gratitude for what they have. In our society, we're judged by what we accumulate, but with Native Americans, it's by how much they give away."

If you're looking for a way to give, check out Vetter's Native American Community Action Network, which is a clearinghouse for information about a variety of organizations in need of volunteers, goods or monetary donations.

Would you like to undertake your own spiritual journey? These sites offer spiritual retreat programs. Check them out!
Circles of Air, Circles of Stone
Rites of Passage
Sacred Passage