Saturday, July 24, 2004

Finally a Flower

About 10 days ago, Bobbie assigned what turned out for me to be a very hard exercise - to pick what flower you are. This type of visualizing, praying, dreaming exercise is not my kind of thing - it's like someone challenging me to identify what I am feeling in a difficult situation - when prompted to actually look in the mirror this way, the mirror usually goes dark. I almost gave up trying to pick a flower.

But I found that if I was honest, there really was a flower in my mind. A flower from my childhood, and one that seemed very appropriate as a metaphor, because it fit in with the dominant picture for my life in my dreams and musings of the last few years - walking through the desert. I grew up in the Mojave Desert, and the flower that kept coming to my mind was the blossom of the Joshua Tree.

The blossom of the Joshua Tree is a subtle beauty - creamy green-white clusters that show up at the end of the usually twisting and strange branches of the Joshua Tree. The trees do not bloom every year, so it is a special treat when you see them blooming in the desert.

As I was thinking about this flower, I did some searches online. First thing I found was that the classic lists of "flower meanings" say that cactus blossoms stand for "endurance". Then I found this description of the Joshua Tree blossoms at the website for the Joshua Tree National Park:
"Spring rains may bring clusters of white-green flowers on long stalks at branch tips. Like all desert blooms, Joshua trees depend on just the perfect conditions: well-timed rains, and for the Joshua tree, a crisp winter freeze. Researchers believe that freezing temperatures may damage the growing end of a branch and stimulate flowering, followed by branching. You may notice some Joshua trees grow like straight stalks; these trees have never bloomed—which is why they are branchless!"
I had never known this about the Joshua Tree - I had always wondered why their branches grew out in such unusual and unique shapes!

So I accept this metaphor for my life - that the freezing temperatures of winter may feel like they are damaging my growth, but that this very damage may force a bloom, and that out of that stress may come a branching out of my life and force my growth into as unique a creation as the wild, other-worldy and unique Joshua Tree.

No comments: