Susan's Thursday morning note February 22, 2018 Waiting for cactus to blossom. Anticipation. Astonishment. God compared to a cactus.
Good freezing cold morning. Fingers stiff missing each key from the cold. Coffee cup steaming. My angel of dawn only glanced in a moment for even she was too cold to spend time at my window. But her glance had eyes of joy. Eyes of anticipation. Eyes encouraging me to see that I’ve been given another gift. Another day. I read an excerpt on the memory of a mother not coming to visit her daughter that she missed greatly because she would possibly miss the bloom of her cactus which only came every four years. How I loved this story which was followed by what else the daughter admired of her mother that she wanted to emulate with her life. Following this is a writing on God choosing a cactus to represent Himself. And then followed by quotes on anticipation and astonishment. I hope you love all of this as I did!
“Sir, You ask me to come and spend and spend a week with you, which means I would be near my daughter, whom I adore. you who live with her know how rarely I see her, how much her presence delights me, and I’m touched that you should ask me to come and see her. All the same I’m not going to accept your kind invitation, for the time being at any rate. The reason is that my pink cactus is probably going to flower. It’s a very rare plant I’ve been given, and I’m told hat in our climate it flowers only once every four years. Now, I’ am already a very old woman, and if I went away when my pink cactus is about to flower, I am certain I shouldn’t’ see it flower again. So, I beg you, Sir, to accept my sincere thanks and my regrets, together with my kind regards.”
This note, signed “Sidonie Colette, nee Landoy,” was written by my mother to one of my husbands, the second. A year later she died, at the age of seventy-seven. Whenever I feel myself inferior to everything about me, threatened by my own mediocrity, frightened by the discovery that a muscle is losing its strength, a desire its power or a pain the keen edge of its bite, I can still hold up my head and say to myself: “I am the daughter of the woman who wrote that letter – that letter and so many more that I have kept. This one tells me in ten lines that at the age of seventy-six she was planning journeys and undertaking them, but that waiting for the possible bursting into bloom of a tropical flower held everything up and silenced even her heart, made for love. I am the daughter of a woman who, in a mean, close-fisted, confined little place, opened her village home to stray cats, tramps and pregnant servant-girls. I am the daughter of a woman who many a time, when she was in despair at not having enough money for others, ran through the wind-whipped snow to cry from door to door, at the houses of the rich, that a child had just been born in a poverty-stricken home to parents whose feeble, empty hands had no swaddling clothes for it. Let me not forget that I am a daughter of a woman who bent her head, trembling, between the blades of a cactus, her wrinkled face full of ecstasy over the promise of a flower, a woman who herself never ceased to flower, untiringly, during three quarters of a century.” – Colette
“If God would choose a plant to represent him, I think he would choose of all plants the cactus. The cactus has all the blessings he tried, but mostly failed, to give to man. Let me tell you how. It has humility, but it is not submissive. It grows where no other plant will grow. It does not complain when the sun bakes it back or the wing tears it from the cliff or drowns it in the dry sand of the desert or when it is thirsty. When the rain comes it stores water for the hard times to come. In good times and in bad it will still flower. It protects itself against danger, but it harms no other plant. It adapts perfectly to almost any environment. It has patience and enjoys solitude. In Mexico there is a cactus that flowers only once every hundred years and at night. This is saintliness of an extraordinary kind, would you not agree? The cactus has properties that heal the wounds of men and from it come potions that can make man touch the face of God or stare into the mouth of hell. It is the plant of patience and solitude, love and madness, ugliness and beauty, toughness and gentleness. Of all plants, surely God made the cactus in his own image.” Bryce Courtenay
“To be astonished is one of the surest ways of not growing old too quickly.” Colette
“So now, whenever I despair, I no longer expect my end, but some bit of luck, some commonplace little miracle which, like a glittering link, will mend again the necklace of my days.” Colette
“Everything that astonished me when I was young astonishes me even more today. The time will never come for me when there are no more discoveries to make. Every morning the world is new again and I will not cease to flower except through death.” Colette
“If you come at four in the afternoon, I’ll begin to be happy by three.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince
“When I think something nice is going to happen I seem to fly right up on the wings of anticipation and then the first thing I realize I drop down to earth with a thud. But really, Marilla, the flying part is glorious as long as it lasts…it’s like soaring through a sunset. I think it almost pays for the thud.” L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea
“Well,”said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although eating honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.” A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
“I am the daughter of…” What image do I picture myself at the end of my life? What traits do I want my children to speak of me? “I am the son of…” I am a daughter of a woman who bent her head, trembling, between the blades of a cactus, her wrinkled face full of ecstasy over the promise of a flower…” Yes. To be the woman who never ceases to be amazed. Who never stops knowing she will be seeing something that will amaze her in the future. Who can look to the heavens day after day after day and find beauty. Hope. Peace. To be astonished. To be the cactus that can touch the face of God in my mind. To be the woman who gave. To have my wrinkled face marvel at the glory of my cactus blooming. To find joy in anticipating my cactus blooming. To notice. To stop time for the moment of beauty. To look forward to something unknown. And for today, to know that little tulip bulbs are beginning to think of awakening from their dreams. To have joy in anticipation of spring. To know. To know there is beauty and there is good and there wonder. To know. To see what is unseen and find joy. The heavens. Anticipation for the greatest beauty. Thank you for letting me entering your morning. Tonight we have the opportunity to write words of the moments we will no longer have the opportunity to relive. Will we have words worthy of inscription in stone? Will we momentarily stop grains of sand in our minds to stop moments mentally? Will we look into eyes? Will we look to the heavens? The promise. The promise of peace awaits the glance. The promise of amazement awaits our eternity. Susan
Latin for this week: anticipatio, expecto – anticipation mirabitur – astonish Works Cited: Courtenay, Bryce. The Power of One. New York. Ballantine. 1996. Colette. My Mother’s House. New York. Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux. 1953.