31 Days of Paying Attention — Day Eighteen


The second stop on our Poetry Walk (noted first on this day) was this fascinating plant. Our silent leader this round was a young woman, a college student who is a current member of Dr. Willis’s senior Honor’s Class. Each of our four stops took place in a very small space, maybe 30 feet from beginning to end. There is something to see with each step we take, you know, even if our world is small and circumscribed.

This sage-colored, pointy-leafed plant is a succulent of some kind, maybe a member of the aloe family? It’s color is muted, like most succulents, and the play of light and dark across its surface brought these words:

sunshine and shade
    play peek-a-boo
with your prickly arms,
each one shorter
   than the one before,
all ridged by
      stay away!

please don’t find me

Sometimes I have prickly arms, too. Do you? There are seasons when I don’t particularly want others around me too much. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I try to pay attention. I ask myself why I’m choosing isolation, trying to suss out where there is fear or anger inside. Those are two emotions that can rule us too often; sometimes we need to look at them, to let them breathe and dissipate. Then those thorns can rest, retract, retreat.

Wow — this paying attention business can get right up IN my business, it seems!


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  1. Elaine Byer Reed says

    Now, this plant I recognize. We have one in our side yard that we planted ourselves. I like having one handy because it is good for treating burns, and I’ve used it several times that way for cooking burns. It has died and grown fresh again. So although it’s prickly on the outside, there is healing within.

    • We had one in our previous home and need to get one for here, too. Having them around is really great when you have a minor injury.

  2. Margie Bicknell says

    I have found it interesting to find a prickly person inside me. Oh, I can be angry and annoying and icky with the best of them. But when I am alone, and feel this prickly person scratching to get out, it reminds me that there are still lots of pointy, prickly parts of me that God needs to smooth out. The inside that is in constant need of healing, needs to be constantly adjusted to God and his purpose. And I can sigh, and just be me, knowing I am in his hands….
    Besides, prickly pear fruit makes great jam…..