A couple of weeks ago I was eagerly anticipating the flowering of a cactus in a nearby neighbor’s front yard. Small, fuzzy knobs had appeared at the top of the single upright stem, very slowly growing larger. Then, rather suddenly, it seemed to catch strength and buds lengthened from those knobs each day, until I could clearly see the shape of the flower bud atop the fuzzy portion that would become the fruit.
Then, one morning, I walked by and the single upright stem had been broken off and was lying on the ground. I was shocked and saddened, figuring it was probably vandalism, since the wind had not been strong. I took a photo of the cactus on the ground, thinking that this was the end of the story—but the next morning I walked by and the broken stem had flowered anyway!
Thinking about it, I remembered that many cacti can be transplanted by breaking off a piece, letting the broken spot harden, and then planting it in the ground. (In fact, we have one such broken stem standing in our own front yard, though it still isn’t clear, after months of waiting, whether it will root and flourish or not…. It stands there, green and unchanging, supported by stakes, while we wait.)
We all face great challenges in our lives, of one sort or another. Sometimes we are, as the saying goes, cut off at the knees. That budding cactus was literally cut off, but it did not immediately die. Instead, it put all its energy into flowering, knowing that its chance for parenting another generation lay in flowering and fruiting. It was also waiting, to see if conditions would allow it to re-root, grow, and flourish again.
We are the same. We can choose to shrivel up and die when we are cut off at the knees, or we can put even more energy into faithfully flowering in hope of a new and better life. Our Venezuelan friend has made the flowering choice more than once in her life already. When she chose to demonstrate against her government back home, she was detained and beaten and her entire university record was destroyed as punishment for her activity. She chose to leave her home, where she knew she could not flourish, and seek to be re-rooted in a new and safer place.
She has also been faithfully flowering in the Eloy Detention Center over the past six months. Every weekend when we visit, her English has improved. She’s befriended many of her fellow detainees and become the go-to detainee for information on how to navigate life behind barbed wire. She could have chosen to shrivel up and die—spiritually, psychologically, or literally—but she has not. She has endured some enormous challenges and chosen to persevere, to flower, to have faith.
It’s still Eastertide. New life emerges every day. I invite you to welcome, embrace, and support new life, wherever you can.
Our friend’s court date is tomorrow. I invite your prayers for her, and for everyone else who has traveled to the United States in search of a safer life (almost 350,000 in the first four months of 2019!). Pray also for all those who stay home but live in fear for their lives. I also invite you to pray for every vandalized plant, that they, like so many abused and persecuted people throughout history, may persevere and survive.
P.S. Our friend was granted asylum on Monday afternoon and she has left Eloy. Thanks be to God!