My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast.
Psalm 108:1, NRSV
Saguaro cactus are steadfast. On less than 10 inches of rain a year, with temperatures that range from 120 degrees down to freezing, the iconic “giants of the desert” live on average for 150 to 200 years.
Saguaros grow in only one part of the world, the Sonoran Desert that stretches from southern Arizona to northern Sonora (Mexico) and west to a small corner of California. They’ve been a part of that landscape of rock and hard sand for 10,000 years. They are steadfast.
It’s doubtful the author of today’s psalm ever saw a saguaro. Yet I think he or she would have appreciated these long-lasting denizens of the desert and especially the lessons they offer in staying steadfast when life is rocky and hard.
Unlike tumbleweeds that spring up quickly after a rain but blow away when life gets hard, saguaros grow slowly, putting out roots that are as broad underground as the plant is tall above ground. They have the foundation they need to remain steadfast through thunderstorms and blistering sun.
The saguaro’s adaptability is also key to its tenacity. Most trees have a central trunk, but a saguaro has ribs. When the rains come, the cactus expands to store water for the dry times. When a bird pecks into its skin, the cactus forms a “shoe” around the injury for protection—just as the Psalmist looks to God to be a “fortified city” in their time of trouble.
The Psalmist strengthens their faith in God through thanks and praise, proclaiming “I will awake the dawn.” Every morning, the upraised arms of God’s steadfast saguaros do the same.
Thank you, Creator God, for your steadfast saguaros and all the other lessons of your Creation. Amen.