Tuesday, December 14, 2010


On top of my TV stand sits a little Christmas cactus in a terra cotta pot. I grew it from a cutting off my grandmother’s Christmas cactus. Grandma’s is huge; thick with deep green branches that turn a rich magenta in the winter from its overabundance of blossoms. Mine is a few sickly, little, yellowish sprouts poking up from the dry soil. It’s not my Christmas cactus’s fault that it is so sickly looking; it has had a rough life. It started out as a cutting that my dad carefully grew roots on, which subsequently fell off in dad’s suitcase on a flight from California to Chicago. In Chicago I re-rooted it, planted it, and placed it on a ledge in my apartment, where I promptly forgot about it a lot, leaving it for long periods without water. Then, just a few months ago it drove from Chicago to Syracuse in the back of my Jeep, smashed between the window and a suitcase to keep it upright. Crossing the Canadian border it even spent two days hidden under a sweater. Yet still it soldiers on. A little bit yellower, sure, but every bit as determined to grow as when it was still attached to my grandmother’s plant. While it has not flowered this year, it has recently sent off a new little green shoot. In the midst of winter, in the midst of adversity, far from the tropical climates it prefers, my determined little Christmas cactus is stubbornly growing.

Martin Luther wrote: “This life therefore is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness, not health, but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it, the process is not yet finished, but it is going on, this is not the end, but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.” So become little Christmas cactus, become. Grow and change and flower. This is just a step in the process, there are bigger things ahead.


  1. Your Christmas cactus story kicked my Beauty and the Beast story's butt. LOVE that quote, btw.

  2. I like it too. Wrote a song based on that quote once.