The colors of the sunset will soon swirl beyond—blues, oranges, golds—as the saguaro cactus stands with its arms straight up to the sky. The old, green giant with 2-inch spikes is an icon for desert climates, a most recognizable image. It grows slowly, but it has an extraordinary ability to store water, even with little rainfall. That ability allows it to produce flowers every year.
When the temperature falls with the sun, the white flowers on the saguaro’s stem tips begin to open. The 3-inch wide blossoms with yellow centers share their glory at night. In the morning, they will close again forever by the time the sun reaches its full height. Then, tomorrow night, new flowers will open.
In this desert darkness, who is there to notice? Who is there to appreciate their short-lived existence or marvel at the beauty they bring to this arid place?
If a bird, bat, or insect does not come by for a sip of sweet nectar and, at the same time, pollinate the flowers, they will not be fertilized. They won’t be able to produce the saguaro’s green fruit, with its bright-red flesh and scores of seeds that feed its fellow desert creatures. The flowers’ short lives in the dark will be wasted.
Or will they?
What if part of their purpose is simply to please the Creator who made them? What if God loves the idea of huge cacti blooming in the desert at nighttime for no one to see but himself?
Unlike us, the old saguaro can’t talk, can’t sing, can’t help people in need, but it lifts its arms to the sky this night and offers its flowers. This is what I have to give. I will give them to the One who gave them to me.
Do you think that beauty can be wasted? Do you think that beauty should have a function in order to be useful?
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