Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Cactus

I have to admit, I stole it. Even though its owner was sitting right there. It was clearly unloved and neglected, down to just three leaves, those more gray than green.

This was several years ago at work. I'd stopped by to talk to my friend Anita. As we chatted, my eyes wandered around her cube, finally lighting on the saddest excuse for a Christmas cactus I'd ever seen.

When we finished talking, I scooped up the plant and told her I was taking it to intensive care - she could have it back when it had a fighting chance to live. She didn't try to stop me.

I put the poor thing on my windowsill (I rated a cube with a window in those days) and tenderly nursed it for several months. It was slow to respond. but that ghost of green never went away, and eventually became stronger, spreading through the leaves until they were healthy and shiny again.

It took a while longer for it to be brave enough to put out new sprouts; to regain enough strength and trust to grow. At this point my conscience started bothering me, so I took the plant back down the aisle and offered it back to Anita, who graciously declined. She was not a bad sort, but her spot in the office just didn't offer the right sort of light for the plant to live.

Not at all sorry, I took it carefully back to my desk, and continued to water it and watch it grow. My little spot of green. It took at least another year, but the plant rewarded me with two brilliant red blossoms one dreary fall week.

When I left AT&T, the plant came with me. (Of course!) When I left home for my trip, I reluctantly handed it off into foster case - I knew it wouldn't thrive in the uncertain environment of the camper van. When I came home, I got it back - still healthy and green - moved it into my condo, then into my new house. It's still not fond of moving; not quite certain yet of this place. The light isn't quite right, and I haven't been able to find the perfect spot for it.

Still, now and again, it blooms. On its own schedule, watching the clock of Christmas in a world tied to ours but not visible to my senses or calendar.

Until, last week when the calendars synced up. I noticed a small tip of red on the end of just one branch. I watched carefully as it grew and swelled and finally burst into full flower - to my eyes, a bird just taking flight.

Somehow joyful.
Beauty in the darkest days of the year.
Color amidst the gray.
Light in the darkness.

** happy sigh **

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