In December- it seemed that everyone was posting pics of their beautiful Christmas cacti. I had cacti envy. While everyone else was posting beautiful blooms- I was looking at cat chewed leaves and a cactus I didn’t even like. (I never have. I prefer roses and carnations and violets and pansies.) Last Christmas, when I sent my husband for white poinsettias for the table- he bought me a Christmas Cactus.
Actually, I think he bought it for himself. I was just his excuse. His grandmother always had one- and it happened to live in the attic bedroom. The bedroom I shared with it for a year during college. We’ll chalk it up to nostalgia.
I still didn’t like it. My first thought? “If I wait, it will die. Like almost every other plant brought into this house that isn’t made of silk.” Except: it didn’t. It survived. It survived being knocked off the counter by the cat. It survived my neglect. It survived my Kervorkian like skills of plant care. It survived countless kitty nibbles on it’s leaves. (No worries- so did the cat.) It also survived my quiet wish that it would die. Let’s just say: I still wasn’t a fan. They aren’t exactly “pretty.”
In December- though- when people started posting pics of their blooming cacti? I had second thoughts. “The blooms are pretty. Why isn’t MINE blooming? It’s not dead. What am I doing wrong?”
I tried sticking it in the basement for a few days. No dice. I actually watered it. (Apparently plants, even cacti, need water, who knew?) I snapped off the pathetic leaves the cat had chewed like cacti bubblegum, in hopes that a little trim of dying leaves would revitalize it. Nope.
I briefly (Okay- I daily) considered throwing it in the trash. A reminder of your plant failing skills is not the most encouraging thing to see every morning while pouring your coffee. yet, some part of me held onto hope. A part buried so deep I didn’t even know it was there.(I think it was under my detest for that ugly thing.)
Until a few days ago. When I noticed something weird on the end of the leaves. By weird I mean: Buds. Flower buds.
“Maybe they’re tiny zombie alien pods. They can’t actually be flower buds- can they? It’s WAY past Christmas….” I considered taking a machete to it for my families protection. (Too much Walking Dead. Sorry about that. It’s an awful show, I know. I’m a bad example. I don’t pretend not to be.)
Instead, I waited.
Then this happened:
Just when I’d given up hope. I have to admit- I cried. I’m not sure why. Maybe because I’m afraid it’s too late for me to bloom, too. Maybe, because I realized I would have missed something really beautiful if I’d given up too soon. Maybe, because I’d found beauty in something I hadn’t found beautiful before. Maybe because I thought of my time living in my husband’s grandma’s attic bedroom… pretending to be an adult during that first year of college.
Or maybe- late blooms are all the sweeter- because they are most anticipated and appreciated. (Even on an ugly Christmas Cactus.)
This one, sure is.
Dear Lord- When I’m ready to give up hope- help me to wait a little longer. When I’m only seeing cat chewed leaves- help me to wait for the blooms to come. When I feel like it’s too late to bloom- give me hope and courage to stretch and unfold. When I compare myself to others- remind me you have a time schedule just for me, When I only see ugly- help me find beauty- even when I have to wait for it….. I love you Lord- thank you for the reminder that you love me too- late blooms and all. Amen.