Life Lessons from a Saguaro Cactus

I had only seen a few cactus pictures. This native Minnesota was amazed at seeing her first large Saguaro Cactus.  What I have observed and learned on our Arizona hikes and travels about the Saguaro Cactus may help you live a fuller life.  This is what I have learned from a Saguaro Cactus.

Saguaro is pronounced (Sah-wah-row).  These cactuses live in the Sanora Desert in Southern Arizona and California.  This was my first time in this area of Arizona. 


Facts Relating to Life


A Saguaro can grow to be over 50 feet tallThey are not fearful with life and rise to the occasion to grow tall.   Rise up against any fear that wants to keep you from growing and maturing in life. 

I for one have a fear of snakes.   This traveling sabbatical trip (see the link to the blog about our sabbatical) has forced me to face my fear. 

I have quizzed rangers and locals about snakes in the area.  They all have shared stories that have given me information to help me overcome my fears.  I have learned when snakes are out, what to do when you meet a snake and which ones to look out for. 

 I have even looked at snakes up close in glass cages.   I for one was the one to turn her head during a movie when they appeared on screen.  I have hiked many miles and still have yet to see one.  I am sure if we visited in the summer, I would encounter one.

Rise up to your fear and confront it. Make the call. Talk to the person. Face it and work at overcoming it. Talk to God about your fear and ask him to help you overcome it and find the help you need.  Pray over your fear until God gives you the ability to face it and overcome it.

A good chapter to read in the bible is Psalm 91.


In order to grow a Saguaro needs a tree near it to shelter it from the hot sun and grow.  As the cactus grows larger the need for the tree is not as imperative. The saguaro actually outlives the tree that was near it.

Who can you come beside and help grow and mature?  A little one needs your help.  When I say little one, I am saying someone younger than you.  Could be ages 0-50.  Be that person who comes along side others. Shade them from the hot sun. They will eventually no longer need you and can do life on their own.  

Raising your kids is like the tree that shelters the Saguaro.  We are each given different talents and abilities and you are chosen to help someone grow. I was the tree to my kids as they grew and now I am in the season of finding the next saguaro I will shelter. 



The Saguaros develop roots that can be up to 20-30 feet deep to get to a water source.   Water is stored in the rainy season during the spring and the summer.  During times of drought, it uses its stored water supply to survive.

We need to develop our roots of faith to get us through the troubled seasons, seasons that are busy or challenging for us.   We develop our roots of faith by reading God’s word daily and digging into the word for truth, and listening and talking to God so that we can store away for those seasons when we need it.  

I have found I have studied something in God’s word and the next season I am using what I learned. For example, I learned about Trust for many years and seasons.  See blog on Trust.   The next fall I actually used what I learned. I must apply it to my life and Trust God Completely with my future and in my day to day travels.  

Keep in the word and it will not return void.



The Saguaro Cactus can live up to 150 to 200 years.   When they are about 3-4 feet, they are only 20-30 years old after that age they start to gain height and branch out and add arms.  Some may only have 2-3 arms and others can have up to 30 arms on them when they are up to 150 years old.  

As we grow older, we need to branch out and not become boring and straight like the shorter Saguaro.  We need to connect with others. This may be different for each of us. 

As a mom I added three more arms to myself with my three kids and of course my husband feels like another arm too.  As I grew older, I mentored moms and students and feel each area of my life was an extension of myself reaching out to help others to grow into the person they were meant to be.   Reach out and help others to learn and grow.

My sisters who do not have their own kids could be the example of the Saguaro with 30 extensions out of them because they are teachers, helping many kids grow and learn each day. In fact, they have taught so many kids for many years they are probably like the rare Saguaro that looks like a hand.



The Saguaro produces fruit once a year with a flower and needs a bat or a certain bird to pollinate it.   This only happens one day a year and it trusts nature to provide the pollination.

We need to trust God to do his work in us at the proper time of our life.  We can’t do everything on our own and God knows the exact time for the things he wants us to do or the season for things to happen in our life. 

Only God knows our future and directs our steps.



 The Saguaro shelters birds. As the cactus gets older a wood pecker is the only bird that can drill a hole into the cactus flesh.   This hole becomes hardened and becomes a shelter for many different birds.  Its like the cactus is still giving back to nature for helping it to grow.

There are times in life we feel like a woodpecker is pecking at us.   We may have a hole in our heart from life, but God can use that for others shelter or growth.  Many people have used their past for Gods purpose.  

If you watched the movie, “I Still Believe”.   The musician Jeremy Camp’s first wife dies, but God used that hole in his heart and their relationship for his story and purpose.   We can become the shelter in the time of storms for others.  



Saguaro overcomes adversity. When the saguaro faces the cold of the snow or 30-degree days it may develop a blackened area on its flesh. Sometimes they die. Most of the time they overcome this adversity and develop a waistline or indentation on their flesh or a permanent blackened area. An arm extension may move downward instead of upwards.   It reveals a time of trouble they overcame and moved on with a few scars.

We can overcome the troubles we face too.  We may each have a scar to show but we are thriving and moving ahead.   

Finally, as we live here on earth we should rejoice, grow strong, help others, shelter others, trust God, care for others and help others to grow while we develop deep roots of faith and rise up to fear.   This is what we can all learn from a Saguaro Cactus.


If you would like more information, visit the Saguaro National Park In Tucson, Arizona. National Park Link.

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