Inspiration: The Grateful Planet


I was captivated by cacti at a couple of different places. I started off this series by taking a journey through Mexico’s blue-green cactus fields.

First, I’d like to thank Paul Mele for a couple of weeks of writing support. I love his motto, which he likes to call “Cut the Sky,” and he always makes me think about the things that we could be doing to change the world for the better.

Lucky for me, I recently ran into Dan Torre at the SALT Conference. We had gotten to know each other at the same event last year and found out we were both at SALT again.

Dan has set his sights on the El Sistema phenomenon that’s so popular in Venezuela. He’s trying to install El Sistema in Houston and in New York City. He also has another fascinating project underway: a Cuban dance company.

He’s getting involved in photography and storytelling, teaching classes to folks who haven’t considered taking pictures or taking art classes. He’s also doing some gallery work. His folks have a great media set up, and I’m looking forward to catching more of his work.

I got to know Paul Mele in Mexico, but I also got to know Paul West over the years. He’s a self-described maniac who is fuming mad about events in Iraq. He’s become a friend. He is not afraid to speak his mind, and he says things that make a lot of people uncomfortable.

Now, as my colleagues Dan Torre and Ben Russell wrote this week in the weekly issue of the Houston Press, some of their other obsessions include the Torrey Pines, all the chicken trucks and all the damn football games.

And of course, they’re serious about their own obsessions, and just as passionate about writing.

I’m thankful that Dan has offered to help support this blog as well as his own photography project and that he has plans to go back to Cuba next week.

And I know that Ben will follow through on his words, which are well thought out and true, saying:

“Stop searching. Stop looking for something else to make us all happy. Reach for the stars and be happy.”

Amen to that.

So, let me wrap up here.

Cactus is all around us, and we have this kinship with it that is more powerful than some of us know. I am reminded of the quote “We live in an age of cosmic coincidence.”

Given that, I think it is a good idea to be absorbed by cacti while on this trip through Mexico, where we’ve had the opportunity to see so many interesting cacti.

But there is one thing to remember.

Nothing in cactus is life or death, but it is a way of being that we can use in our lives. And that is the main focus of this blog, helping Houston-area folks find the way to get to their faith.

Pastor Jim Gullion can be reached at Follow his church updates at and follow him on Facebook.

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