What can we learn from the cactus?
We at Hagar's Community Church have been really into cacti lately. It all started with a quote read to me by Lane one Wednesday afternoon:
"The Almighty conceived the cactus plant. If God would choose a plant to represent him, I think he would choose of all plants the cactus. The cactus has all the blessings he tried, but mostly failed, to give to man. Let me tell you how. It has humility, but it is not submissive. It grows where no other plant will grow. It does not complain when the sun bakes its back or the wind tears it from the cliff or drowns it in the dry sand of the desert or when it is thirsty. When the rains come it stores water for the hard times to come. In good times and bad it will still flower. It protects itself from danger, but it harms no other plant. It adapts perfectly to almost any environment. It has patience and enjoys solitude. In Mexico there is a cactus that flowers only once every hundred years and at night. This is saintliness of an extraordinary kind, would you not agree? The cactus has properties that heal the wounds of men and from it come potions that can make man touch the face of God or stare into the mouth of hell. It is the plant of patience and solitude, love and madness, ugliness and beauty, toughness and gentleness. Of all plants, surely God made the cactus in his own image?"
- from The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
The cactus as a symbol of the manifestation of God struck us. So much so that we drove to a local garden center and bought our own matching cacti to keep in our homes and remind us of this powerful image of God.
The cactus has quickly become a core image and symbol of Hagar's Community Church. It reminds us to be rooted in God. To store up God's living water in abundance so that we may endure the times of wilderness. To be adaptable and flexible, listening to the movements of the Spirit. To take solace in the changing of the seasons as we remember that everything is temporary and that Spring always comes.
Let us pray:
God of Cacti and all things planted,
Help us to be more like that. To be rooted, and grounded, and planted in you.
As the world moves around us, calling for us here and there, pulling us in every direction,
Remind us of the seasons. Open our eyes to the changing of the leaves; let it be to us a symbol of you, Holy One, who waits patiently within the rhythms of creation, reminding us of the harvest to come and storing up water for the drought.
Like the cactus, you bloom where you are planted; bearing fruit regardless of the season, because when it was wild and dark, you held steady and true. You are our Great Cactus. You are our Wellspring. Regardless of the season, you remain.
We find ourselves in a season of hard things. May we draw upon your Spirit, may we reach into the depths of our being and find you there. May we look into the eyes of our neighbor and find you there. Help us to endure this drought with your love, and with the love of our communities.
And God, Gracious God, when rain does come because we know it will come - let us enjoy it. Let us store up your goodness for the inevitable changing of the seasons.
It is in the holy name of Jesus that we pray, saying,