On the last day of my family’s trip to Southern California last week, we visited the Joshua Tree National Park.
Joshua Tree Park is dry desert, but littered with fascinating features and sights that capture the imagination and awes the curiosity of visitors.
First stop for us was the Ranger station, where a kind and knowledgeable ranger headed us in the right direction for the best sights.
He warned us of Cholla cactus which he said, “Hurts like hell,” if you get pricked by its needles. We had no idea what one looked like, but decided to avoid them the best we could.
When we ventured upon a Cholla cactus garden, we exclaimed, “Aw, the Cholla cactus! Let’s go look!!”
We walked the trail through the prickly plants and saw with our own eyes what the ranger had warned us of. The points of the needles are so fine, that evidently you don’t realize they’ve poked you until it’s too late, and by then, the sensation of pain is going full bore. So we were told…
As we gingerly and VERY carefully walked through the garden, avoiding contact like Superman avoiding Kryptonite, I thought about how much easier it would be to remain pricker-free by staying out of the garden in the first place! I figured we could negotiate the Cholla for a few minutes without incident, but how often do people try to navigate prickly mental territory that would be easier to avoid altogether?
Indulging in a forbidden sin, for example, like telling a lie, committing adultery, stealing, moral assassination, talking behind other people’s back…basically anything that leads to a guilty conscience, or should lead to a guilty conscience, is a mental Cholla garden to stay away from.
It’s much easier to live a clean, moral, pure life than to slip into error, get stung by the vengeance of sin, and nurse one’s wounds until recovered.
When we slip, Christ always provides a way out, but as the old proverb states, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
We made it through the garden unharmed, but were all relieved after walking through the exit gate to not be constantly concerned about whether we’d accidentally brush up against a Cholla bush and get stung!
Cholla have a certain beauty to them from a distance, and close-up, but it’s a dangerous kind of beauty, which if it draws you up too close, grabs you in a very unpleasant way.
Ouch! I think I’ll keep my distance…