The Cactus Flower

A blooming cactus on my morning walk.

A blooming cactus on my morning walk.

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.

Marie and my family.

Marie and my family.

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.

A Saguaro flower via

A Saguaro flower via

 

A picture that Marie took via

A picture that Marie took via

25 Comments on “The Cactus Flower

  1. Pingback: A brief tribute… | The Project: Me by Judy

  2. Pingback: Guest post on the cactus flower | Adventures in Spiritual Living

  3. So good to read your words and to be held here, Karen. This is beautiful. I’ve missed you and have been holding you in my heart as you’ve embarked on this journey!

    I seriously laughed out loud at this: “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.” I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately — this being a grownup business. What I keep coming back to is this — usually when I’m afraid or overwhelmed I’m looking for someone to rescue me. I feel like a child. And when I was a child, no one rescued me. So instead of feeling afraid and small and disappointed that no one is helping me, my latest thing is appreciating that I am the grownup. I’m a grownup. Thank God. And I’m actually celebrating this! Instead of being scared or reacting with anger or shutting down, I get to call the shots. It’s actually quite freeing. I’m the boss of my own life! I’ve never let myself down and I will always be there for myself. Sort of cool. 😉

    We were just in Palm Springs last week. Elias kept talking about the Saguaro Cactus. I actually got choked up reading about it here. I’m looking forward to sharing these pieces of your writing with him.

    Wishing you so much joy and peace in your new home. Be good to yourself. Be gentle. XO

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    • Oh Jessica, I love your insight about getting to be the grown up. It is something to celebrate and I haven’t thought of it like that before. There is comfort in that and having my husband as my partner takes away some of the fear. You need to come to Tucson someday so that I can invade your vacation! xxoo

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  4. You’ll never know how much your post means to me this morning. I am going through a very rough time right now, and the one thing I keep holding onto is love. When ever I am questioning what to do or not do, I keep asking myself what is the most loving way to go. What is the way that my highest self would direct me to go? And when worries pop up, I look at what belief is being activated, and where it came from. It’s especially challenging when so much of the world is still asleep and doesn’t think in this way. Thank you so much for this beautiful reminder/ synchronicity.

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    • You have no idea how much your comment helps me, especially the need to look at what belief is being activated. I’ve had this sense that I’m going back to old thought processes that no longer serve me but haven’t quite been able to put my finger on it until reading your comment. Thank you too!

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      • And this is why I participate in a blogging community!! As soon as I dropped all of the “should” and expectations that were driving me crazy, the morning tears stopped and I am once again a bit more centered… at least for now.

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  5. oh, this!

    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.

    let that be me…that’s my prayer, let me not hold anything back.
    Thanks for this today, beautiful!

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  6. How wonderful to have the chance to spend some time with Marie. Best wishes in your new home!

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  7. thanks Karen
    thanks for sharing the cactus flowers with us its my first time to see a cactus flower i even don’t know much about these flowers so again i big thanks you for you.

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  8. Welcome back Karen! The pictures of the blooming cacti are amazing – I’ve never seen a cactus bloom before. Thank you! Love will find a way.

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  9. Dear Karen,
    You have certainly been on my mind lately, but you would never know it by my scattered communication. You find the best and most beautiful ways to bring grace into challenging situations. You embrace moments of serendipity and actually act on them! Me? Had I been in the same situation, I may have been too exhausted to put myself out there and meet a new friend – even one that I had admired from afar. But, you saw the situation for what it was and flowered beyond your stress and situation. I wanna be you when I grow up!
    Gorgeous photos, beautiful story, nice nod to Christy’s piece…and girl…your hair is rocking! Emerging and blooming from the dust (and boxes) like those pretty flowering cacti. xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • You have been on my mind too as you’re one of the many people I’ve neglected lately. It’s so weird to be “digging the tangible” like Christy says but to feel so removed from everything socially. I’m making my way back slowly. Thank you for your words, you encouragement and your love! Not sure if I’m keeping the hair, though. I’ll give it another month. 😉 xxoo

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      • You are not neglecting me at all! You and I have the best kind of friendship. The knowing that the other is not far from the heart or thoughts and then able to pick right back up where we left off. Take your time, enjoy filling your new space with your family vibes. I’m not going anywhere 🙂

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      • Awww you two…. That’s the mark of true friends. You can pick up after any amount of time and it’s just like you’d been speaking that morning.

        I am digging the tangible, for shore, but each break makes me more grateful for the enduring friendships I’ve made via blogging and social media. My virtual world has shrunk dramatically, but I think I’m finally finding the right balance of tangible, virtual, and introspection. It’s always in flux though, so just focus on the moment and what feels right for you…
        I love that you are living in the now. You don’t have to blog it, photograph it, tweet it, post it, journal it, to prove it happened….you just have to live it and try to love it. 🙂 (sounds corny I know, but I think you know what I mean.)
        Much love to you and your beautiful family. ❤️

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