A loving vigil

My mom is not a saguaro. A saguaro is a cactus which grows very, very slowly. At first the saguaro is a single stem, but later adds to itself, nourishing its appendages from a seemingly inexhaustible source of goodness.

The saguaro's branches grow out, initially, at right angles -- as though they wanted to get away from the main stem. But later, they turn upward and parallel one another.

The main stem, and now its brethen stems, all appear to have one purpose, yet each stem maintains itself. And some, in their turn, nourish smaller, younger ones.

The saguaro doesn't need a great deal of attention, though its offshoots require considerable protection in their early stages. It can get along without verbal appreciation, yet it never stops being a saguaro -- never stops acting as a sentinel to the desert surrounding it.

It's at night that the saguaro starts blooming. Just as the desert chill and darkness take on a sense of foreboding for the night traveler, the saguaro puts out a white flower. A symbol of innocence, peace, purity, and cheer.

And while the flower start blooming in the darkness, it doesn't go away in the bright light of day but remains atop -- proclaiming to one and all -- we are one family and all is well.

Saguaros are not for transplanting; they are not for sale.Their qualities are not for the marketplace. They are rooted, instead, in their own time, in their own purpose. They have their job; they grow and nourish their own additions.

And they stay where they belong. The weary wanderer, the lonely, the tired, the discouraged -- all can look to the saguaro and recognize the good in steadfastness. And be blessed thereby.

What about the arrogant, prideful, and envious? For them the saguaro is a grand example. Nothing fancy about this cactus; nothing commercially elegant. But a dignity and grace beyond all language to describe. And a solidness as well.

What does the saguaro know of rivalries, of peer dislikes, of domestic quarrels? Whatever swirls around the saguaro -- whatever dust settles for a time on its branches -- doesn't affect the heart of the plant. It's beyond any frivolous caring.

It's just there. It's preserved and loved and respected. And it may not look as though it's still growing, but it is. It never stops. And it never stops nourishing those to whom it is attached.

My mom is a lot like a saguaro.

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