Last week, Travis and I took a hike in Joshua Tree National Park, in southern California. We made our way amidst giant granite boulders and strangely beautiful flora to a dam and small lake, built by ranchers to water their cattle in the late-19th century in this starkly arid environment. It was breathtaking. Along the way, there were a few plaques describing geology and plants. One of them pointed out the “wait-a-minute” bush, cautioning that visitors who stray from the path can find themselves stuck by its nasty thorns.
I was utterly charmed by the idea of a “wait-a-minute” bush. Of course the shrub has a true scientific appellation, but all of its common names are great — “cat claw,” “devil’s blanket,” “wait-a-bit” — every one of them practically begging to be a sermon title.
I thought I’d talk about how life so often snags us with a “wait a minute” — sometimes just to make us stop and pay attention, maybe to get us back on our path, or perhaps to steer us in an entirely different direction. How usually when I get caught by a sticker or thorn like this, my first reaction is, “Oh hell! Something’s gone wrong…” But after processing, after carefully contemplating the meaning of the scratch, I can usually make some sort of empowering sense out of the situation. With intention, I can claim a silver lining; I can turn lemons into lemonade.
What I’m thinking about now, though, is the fact that the reason life gives us lemons is not just so we can make lemonade, but because lemons are amazing and wonderful things to begin with.
Maybe wait-a-minute bushes aren’t just something we’re supposed to transform into a life lesson or interpret as a warning or use to guide our way. Maybe wait-a-minute bushes are in and of themselves valuable and perfect just for being what they are.
Clearly, these shrubs are an essential part of the interconnected ecosystem in which my husband and I were privileged to walk last week. Perhaps the same could be said of all of the snags and tears and ouches we all encounter everywhere we go. Our journey can’t be about avoiding the discomforting encounters, all the cat claws and devil’s blankets in life. But neither do we need to make sense of it all, or give everything some kind of positive spin to make it okay. It’s already okay. AND sometimes we get poked, or stuck, or lost, or hurt. That’s part of our ecosystem. That’s part of life’s complex beauty.
Not “wait a minute, something’s wrong,” not “wait a minute, we need to figure this out,” not “wait a minute, what is the universe telling me?” But simply: wait a minute, here we are, and how beautiful that is.
I can’t wait to be with you again. XO, Drew
© 2018 Drew Groves