For years I have been captivated by this type of cactus plant and flower having first become aware of it on my many hikes through the deserts of Arizona. Fascinated by the spiny arms of the plant reaching toward the heavens, seemingly barren in the harsh and arid climate of the desert, the unusual beauty of the plant and the small but brilliant pink flower mesmerized me on numerous occasions. How could such a beautiful flower blossom in such a hostile climate? When I listened to the sermon presented by Fr. Patrick Schultz of the Diocese of Cleveland (link below) I understood why and what correlation it had to my life.
Our hearts, Fr. Patrick explains, are beautiful flowers in the patchwork of God’s garden. Created and sustained by the providential care of God, our hearts yearn for Him, waiting and longing for the dewfall of God’s grace to bring forth our blooming. Poor in spirit, longing to be in complete union with Him and to be fully alive in His Spirit, we must be open to God and in a posture of receptivity to reach our fullest potential and fullest bloom. We must become “little”, or as St. Therese teaches in her Little Way, we must become humble spiritual children, fully trusting Our Father and surrendering to His will.
So, what does this specific cactus and its flower have to do with my life and spiritual journey? After listening to Fr. Patrick’s sermon, I specifically asked God, while in prayer, to show me what kind of flower I was, and He immediately answered me by reminding me of this photo that I had taken on one of my hikes. My own journey through life, at one time, took me through a dark period of depression accompanied by suicidal ideation for over three and a half years. It was an overwhelming desert experience of darkness which enveloped my soul. A desperate and dangerous experience that nearly took my life. Jesus had spent time in the desert and was tempted, and now I was having my own desert experience. Much like the cactus with it’s spiny arms reaching toward heaven, my own arms and heart were now lifted towards God begging and pleading for healing. I implored God to have mercy on me as nothing I did or what my doctor’s prescribed as treatment abated the depression, the darkness, the suicidal ideation, or the desperation. God did heal me, miraculously, in His time. But, as Fr. Patrick states, I had to come to a place of total trust and complete surrender for that healing to take place. After years of suffering, I eventually did surrender it all to Him, and I placed myself totally at His disposal. I had to be open and receptive to whatever God willed for me. And when God’s dewfall finally fell on the tiny bud of my faith, His GRACE flowed abundantly, and my cactus flower bloomed with unimaginable JOY, health, and passion.
God works in our lives whether we are in a desert or not. He calls out to us and waits for our “Yes” of receptivity and surrender. Consider taking the time to listen to Fr. Patrick’s beautiful homily here. Ask God to show you what kind of flower He created you to be and surrender yourself to His unfailing love and will for your life. Flowers are blooming daily in Hope’s Garden. Come join us.