Once upon a time there lived a happy little cactus by the name of Chris. Chris grew in the hot, dry, beautiful desert. He lived among tall, tall cactus, short, squatty cactus and skinny, spiny cactus. Every sort of desert creature and plant, also,lived and grew together in this hot, dry sandy place. It was home. Chris loved the desert. He enjoyed the sounds of snakes slithering through the sand and jack rabbits as they hopped past. He adored the feel of the hot sun on his twisty, prickly branches. He lived in the happiest of all places, for a cactus.
One day a group of strange two legged creatures came to the desert. One of the two legged creatures with long hair and a soft rain like voice said, "Oh my! Look at this interesting little cactus." She was looking right at Chris! He felt very proud and he tried to spread out his limbs so that she could see how handsome he was!
"What kind of cactus is this?" she asked.
The two legged creature with the short spiky hair and a gravely voice answered, "That is a desert Christmas cactus."
"How wonderful!" she exclaimed, "I have many cactus at home but I don't have any like this one. I will take him home with me to Seattle."
Seattle?, thought Chris, What an interesting name for a place! Now, Chris didn't know that Seattle is a very wet place or he might not have thought it so interesting. Cacti don't love rain, you know. Then she pulled a shovel out of the truck and began digging the sand from around Chris' roots.
"Hey! Don't do that!" Chris yelled but she kept right on digging. Before Chris knew what had happened, he found himself pulled out of the ground and plopped down into a little pot. Next he traveled for a long bumpy ride in the back of a pick up truck, then in a dark cardboard box at the bottom of an airplane. Finally, she pulled Chris out of the box and placed him on a shelf.
There, on the shelf with him, sat several strange looking plants. They had the appearance of cacti but not exactly, the color of their branches instead of being pale green had a much darker coloring and their thorns provided little protection from enemies. However, Chris had to confess feeling a little jealous over their brilliant red blooms.
"What kind of plant are you?" one of them whined.
"I am a Christmas cactus." Chris stated proudly.
"You're not a Christmas cactus! You don't look anything like us."
"I am too a Christmas cactus!" Chris insisted. He began to feel very sad about this new home with these strange plants. "I am a desert Christmas cactus." He insisted trying to explain it better.
"Christmas cactus live and grow in the rainforest not in the hot dry desert." One of them insisted. "If you are a Christmas cactus, where are your red blooms?"
"Blooms? I don't have blooms. I do get some very lovely red berries when the desert grows cold but it's warm and dry here. I never have berries when I am warm and dry only when the desert grows cold."
"It's only warm and dry here because we are inside, Silly" the funny looking plant said.
"Inside? I've never been inside before. I can't see the sun but I feel its warmth."
"I hate it inside!" the whiner said, "It is so dry. Soon she will move us outside to the screened porch. It's better on the porch."
It would be nice to see the sun again Chris thought.
Weeks passed. Chris didn't mind living inside but he missed the sound of the scurrying animals and the sun. Night time in the desert, the air grows cold but here it stayed warm day and night.
The two legged creature spoke kind to the other cactus and raved over their beautiful blooms but whenever she came to Chris, she would sigh and say, "You just aren't doing well are you and where are those beautiful blooms?"
Then one day, she carried all of the plants out to the screened porch. The other cacti chattered pleasantly about finally getting to live outside. Chris looked and looked trying to get a glimpse of the sun but he couldn't see it and the air felt soggy.
"It's so wet out here." Chris said.
"Yes! Isn't it glorious?" the other cacti agreed.
"Glorious? This is so uncomfortable! I like the dry air."
"In the rainforest the air is always moist. It feels almost like home. The only thing better would be if we could feel the rain dropping on our limbs."
"Oh no, I don't like rain at all!" Chris felt sad and uncomfortable on the screened porch. It felt worse than winter in the desert.
The other plants sang gaily and talked about how lovely the weather. They didn't seem to mind that their beautiful red blooms dropped off.
Once in awhile, the two legged creature with the long flowing hair would join them on the porch. She seemed to enjoy sitting on the screened porch as well. Sometimes, she would come out with her morning coffee and a big black book. She would occasionally look out at the blue day, sip coffee and read. Chris liked it when she came to the screened porch to read but he remained uncomfortable and homesick.
One day, two-legged came outside. She, too, seemed sad. She began to cry softly like the constant rain that Chris had grown to hate. Chris wished that she wouldn't cry so. He wanted her to be peaceful and happy. He longed to be able to cheer her but what could he do?
Suddenly, she stopped crying. She looked right at Chris and let out a little gasp. "Well just look at you!" She exclaimed. A smile spread across her face. "Just look at your beautiful red berries!"
For the first time, Chris noticed that his winter berries had bloomed and he smiled.
II Corinthians 12:10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Darlene is a writer who travels with her husband, Mark across rural United States as he builds power plants.