“Stand tall * Reach for the sky * Be patient through dry spells * Conserve your resources * Think long term * Wait for your time to bloom * Stay sharp!”- Advice from a Saguaro
“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble. . . . Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man.”- Psalm 107:1-2, 8 (ESV)
As longtime members of the Mitchell Park Domes in Milwaukee, my wife Vicki and I love exploring the cacti in the Desert Dome. With its lone saguaro cactus. But nothing prepared us for our recent visit to the Sonoran Desert surrounding Tucson, AZ! The desert floor and hillsides brimmed with saguaros of all shapes and sizes.
Two key factors stimulate and promote the growth of saguaros – water and temperature. Although the Sonoran Desert experiences both summer and winter rains, it’s believed the saguaro obtains most of its moisture via the summer rains. In fact, a fully hydrated saguaro weighs in between 3200 and 4000 pounds. Furthermore, its roots only go down 4-6 inches. However, they radiate as far out from the saguaro as it is tall (40-60 feet). And one deep tap root extends more than two feet into the ground.
Finally, in the saguaro’s 150-200 year lifespan, it produces 40 million seeds. Yet, few seeds survive to grow as seedlings – and even fewer reach adulthood.
Former Tonight Show host Johnny Carson once defined a New York minute as the interval between a Manhattan traffic light turning green and the guy behind you honking his horn. Thousands of years earlier, in stark contrast, Moses told the Israelites to remain still – as the Egyptians closed in on them. The Lord would fight for them. Or, as Sue Monk Kidd writes in When the Heart Waits, “Be still and cooperate with the mystery God is unfolding in you. Let it be.”
Therefore, in her latest book In Want + Plenty, Meredith McDaniel implores us all to take a collective breath to absorb that concept of cooperating with the mystery. Because it’s not necessary to receive an answer for all things. Instead, as we develop patience through dry spells, we just wonder. Most significantly, Meredith encourages us to take ten minutes to sit in stillness. Meredith reports that her granddaddy Ellis always said that you are late if you’re not ten minutes early. How might your whole being function if you allowed yourself ten minutes to sit and just breathe?
In conclusion, Meredith observes that music represents one way to free the inner workings of the soul. Thus, when the Israelites finished passing through the Red Sea, they instinctively sang. As the celebrated, they looked back in awe at God’s provision. Also, they looked toward the future. In other words, rescue births praise!
A nurse tree provides shelter for baby saguaros. It protects the young seedlings from temperature extremes, drying sunlight, and animals. Likewise, Meredith explains how to stay patient through dry spells:
“When it feels like the waves of life are going to consume us, we have a clear choice. We can look back on our stories and be bound by the darkness, letting it take root and defeat us, or we can sing a song of hope that springs us forward in the middle of the mess and points to God’s protection and provision.”
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!