I kind of take issue with cacti.
First of all, I have a problem with this species of plant. You know how lots of folks possess ‘green thumbs’ and can just grow and nurture plants so that they are beautifully healthy and vibrant?
Well, I’m not one of those. I tend to call myself a ‘black thumb.’ Not even a brown thumb – nope, a black thumb because every plant I’ve ever tried growing indoors succumbs to the black death. Done for. No blooming, no green leaves, nothing, nada…well, you get the picture.
And my uncanny knack of killing indoor plants even extends itself to cacti. I mean, seriously, who kills a cactus? It doesn’t need much attention. It doesn’t get too upset if you forget to water it because it isn’t a thirsty thing. It thrives under adverse conditions. Well, under my care, cacti croak. Big time.
So I stay away from the spiny little plants that you can keep inside your home, even though some of them are kind of attractive and even bloom lovely flowers.
And I really take a wide berth around those plants when it comes to outdoor cacti. Those things are downright dangerous!
Having grown up in the northeast, I truly wasn’t too familiar with any kind of cactus until shortly after Papa and I were married. Forty years ago we moved to Oklahoma where Papa served in the military.
We lived in the Sooner State for a few years and my sister, brother-in-law, and their family also just so happened to live a couple hours north of us. Where their ranch was located, some cacti grew on their property.
I knew they were prickly and not to touch one lest you get stabbed by their spiky spines. Now my sis and brother-in-law were also transplants from our neck of the woods so they weren’t exactly experts on cacti either.
Before I continue this story, I must tell you right up front that my brother-in-law is like an older brother to me. He’s been a part of our family for almost as long as I can remember. And so, when I was younger, he often treated me the way you would a kid sister with teasing and joking around.
My brother-in-law, the jokester, once surprised my mom by picking her up and sitting her in the kitchen sink when she was certain he wouldn’t dare do such a thing. So he’s always been the kind of guy that could give us a good laugh.
Back to my cactus story. On a visit to see my relatives, we were all walking around their property and noticed some flat paddle-shaped cacti growing here and there. Paddle-shaped. That must have given Brother-in-law the idea that it might be funny to pick one up and slap my backside with it, like you would use a paddle.
What he didn’t realize was that those little hair-like profusions of spiny things sticking out on the cactus wouldn’t just give me a sharp little jab like he thought they would, but would actually penetrate my clothing and with needle-like sharp precision stick in my skin underneath my clothing, much like I imagine porcupine quills or darts would. Lots of tiny cactus spines. In my backside. Uh-huh.
He was mortified to say the least. And without exposing too much information, my sister had to utilize tweezers to relieve me of my painful affliction.
Now, you may understand why I don’t get too chummy with a cactus, no matter what it looks like.
So, back in February, Papa and I visited this same sister and brother-in-law in their new home in the Arizona desert. Where there are lots of cacti. And some crazy plant that is called a “jumping” cactus; its real name is Jumping Cholla.
They aren’t huge things like the Saguaro and the Chollas are kind of cute. Some are even called Teddy Bear Cholla. But beware of their ‘cuteness’ because their needles are extremely sharp and have hundreds of microscopic scales.
So if you happen to walk by one and faintly brush up against it, you will be one sorry person. The pods containing the needles detach and spring onto you and are apparently quite painful and very hard to remove.
Ouch! Sister and Brother-in Law were careful to warn us about these scary cacti because they were fairly abundant in their area. You can be certain when we were ATV riding on desert trails, I was making darn sure no part of my body or clothing was sticking out close enough to one of those bad babies.
Of course, the old, crazy cactus paddling story came up in our conversation during our visit. And we laughed and laughed over it. Because honestly, it is funny.
As I recall all of this, it occurs to me that I could be negative about my up close and personal encounter with a cactus all those years ago and hold it against my brother-in-law. But what purpose would that serve? He didn’t intentionally try to hurt me nor would he ever do so. I love him like he is my blood brother and I do believe he cares for me like a sister.
All of this to say that I found myself amused this week when a Facebook friend posted this quote:
“Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don’t have to sit on it.” ~ Joyce Meyer
Last Sunday morning in worship, our pastor reminded us to that to love someone as Christ loves us is to keep short accounts. To not dwell on the wrongs that have been done to you. Especially if the offender asks forgiveness, and even if he/she never does.
When you embrace a negative attitude about your situation in life or towards another person who may truly have done something almost unforgivable to you, it just makes your own life that much more challenging. More complicated. More grueling.
Who wants that? Not me. So I’m not sitting on any cactus that comes my way. Are you?
“Life is like a cactus, thorny but beautiful.” ~ Unknown