The Cactus Flower
Getting our taxes done used to be my least favorite thing until I discovered buying a house. What was supposed to be a fairly straightforward process turned into a stressful nightmare that I couldn’t wake up from. It’s certainly not life threatening, but it’s not nothing either. When all of your belongings are packed into a moving truck and you have no idea when or where it’ll be unpacked, it’s emotional.
The hardest part for me was the uncertainty. I felt like I was lost in the wilderness and I couldn’t get the right perspective to see the situation as a whole – the forest for the trees. I remember vividly wishing that a grown up would come and save us. And then I realized that we were the grown ups. Oh shit.
As I lay in bed at 3 am, suddenly wracked by paralyzing panic, I’d pray for comfort and to somehow make my way back to myself. One night a single word popped into my head, the only word that could make it through the thousands of jumbled thoughts: Love. I had to believe that somehow, love would get us through this. God’s love, the love from our support network, the love we share with others. Somehow, it would be enough. I began to seek out bits of love, like a crumb trail in the forest. The tiniest speck of positivity leading me to the next act of kindness and carrying me through the day. There have been some days when just glancing upon my children’s beautiful faces was enough to get me through to the next moment. Baby steps forward.
I haven’t spent much time on social media and I’ve horribly neglected my blogging friends. So, when I got on Facebook one day and saw some pictures that Marie at Adventures in Spiritual Living had posted I almost fell out of my chair. It turns out she was vacationing with her family right down the street from our new house. Some might call this a coincidence but I don’t. I’ve had too many people end up in my path right when I needed them to brush it off as a happy accident. I emailed her right away (6:12 am, I think) and asked to intrude on her vacation so that me and my family could meet her.
We got to spend some time with Marie and her husband, two amazingly warm and gracious people. They were staying at a dude ranch that I’d never had the opportunity to visit and the views of the mountains and desert were spectacular.
There are some people in this world who seek out the good in every situation, even when circumstances couldn’t be more uncertain. Marie has been living with cancer for several years and her wisdom and insights into life have always drawn me to her. In that beautiful setting of the dude ranch, surrounded by the desert’s harsh beauty, I found myself likening Marie to a cactus flower.
A cactus doesn’t fret over uncertainty. It accepts with gratitude what it is given and when spring comes, it shares what it has by bursting forth blossoms that turn into fruit. Its fruit sustains life in the desert.
No flower is more cherished in the desert than the Saguaro. The Saguaro cactus is slow growing and when it blossoms for the very first time, it may already be 40-75 years old. Talk about a late bloomer. By that time, she has seen it all. She’s enjoyed the abundance of the monsoons and has also had to conserve through severe heat and drought. But once she reaches a certain point in her life, she’ll blossom every spring. She’s too wise and generous to hold anything back.
I don’t know if I’m out of the wilderness yet. I’m adjusting to a new home, new routines and what feels like a chance for a new life. It’s familiar, yet so different from what I’m used to. I wouldn’t want it all to be the same but after 20 years in the same place, I find myself holding back, afraid to be hopeful. But deep down I know that’s not how I’m made to be. At a glance, the desert looks frightening but there are cactus flowers everywhere.