When Bertha's nephew was stricken with cancer he asked her to send him something to read that was comforting and consoling. She offered to check bookstores and find something appropriate. He replied, “No I want something you have written yourself, something that helped you when you were going through difficult times.” She sent him copies of four reflections she had written earlier for a spiritual direction class.
After a brief illness he passed away.
He had requested that he be cremated and his ashes scattered in the desert. His mother asked Bertha to write something to be read at the scattering ceremony. She wrote the poem: “The Quiet Desert.”
Talking with several friends and sharing the poem, she learned that many were choosing to be cremated and expressed a desire to have their ashes scattered in various places. Those most often mentioned were the Desert, the Mountain, the Valley, the Sea, the River, the Forest, the Lake, and the Garden.