Everyone who stood with a saguaro filled out a comment card sharing their experience. Here are a few of the responses:

Sunrise, shadows lengthening, bird song, friends, communion, cactus song. Differences and sameness. Relationships–mine to the desert, bees to the flowers, stillness to all. Joy of connecting, doing something new changing state of mind.  -Lori, 50

Curvebilled thrashers dig their whole heads deep into the flowers. I wish I could do that. I played tiny dry desert music on the spines. This would be a good way to spend an hour at sunrise once a week. A gila woodpecker and visited my saguaro. This visitation of birds delighted me.  -Janet

It was a perfect day to watch the sunrise with the saguaros. The flowers were blooming on the tops of some of the saguaros, an exciting time for the O’odham as we prepare for the traditional new year, it was so calming to hear and see the morning doves playfully chasing each other with the start of the new day.  -Megan, 28

Luciana Reyes stands with a saguaro. Photo: Manuel Ruiz

Today I noticed the peace of the forest, the groundedness, the age of the land and life here. Also, the sense of being OTHER in this giant mega-guild of successful organisms, that “accept” me but have absolutely no need for me, though I feel welcomed and humbled and reminded of my heavy impact as one of the human species. I’m fascinated by the slow intention of arms. How expressive they become, telling stories, holding things, reaching out, reaching up, offering, habitat, manna, too.   -Jill, 55

I am grateful for this opportunity to be among the saguaros and their companions: ocotillo, cholla, opuntia…a perfect setting for meditation. Resting in awareness of the steady, sturdy saguaros. My saguaro was a small one, closely sharing space with an ocotillo. I was aware of being in a community- and feeling welcome, peaceful. Actually, I began feeling quite part of the community. Would be happy to spend many hours interbeing with my saguaro. It’s an honor! Thank you.   -Tura, 76

I thought of the 100 year old saguaro and of why was happening among humans 100 years ago. (They were killing themselves during the Great War (WWI).) The saguaros taught me patience.  -Fred, 77

Benevolent. That’s the word that saguaros always conjure in my mind. That’s the reason I came to live here. This morning my saguaro was thanking me for coming to live with them.  -Donna, 74

Selfie by Donna Tang, who dressed like a saguaro for her stand.

The saguaros are so deeply grounded even as they reach for the sky. There is such peace among the saguaros. Among the saguaros is the perfect place to dance.  -Abby, 62

The saguaro taught me that experience is a matter of perspective. It takes time to cultivate true intimacy with another. Even if it is immediately felt, it is important to remember that it is largely from your own perspective because it takes time & shared experience to begin to know and understand each other.  -Lori, 37

I notice that some cactus are alone and I named some names. And I feel the cactus is talking to me. I hear some tunes of the spikes. It teach me to not be alone and always be with some cactus.  -H, 13

Our saguaro had a rip. The sound was like when you put all your hands on a guitar and play it. I fell excited. I learned that I could make music with saguaro cactus.  -S, 9

The saguaro had a little scar on one side. It was surrounded by other plants and didn’t have spines on one of the sides with plants toward the bottom. It was really short so we could see the top. The spines toward the top were lighter and stuck out more; the ones at the bottom stuck toward the ground. The bases of the young spikes looked like sugar skulls. -S, 20

Looking at the cactus made me free. H made a “tak” noise. Saguaro taught me that life is amazing. -S, 14

It was young/small. Had strong/weak spines. Makes music with spines (sounded like guitar strums). -P, 19

It’s big. It’s spikey. It has a whole bunch of arms. I saw a skeleton. One with two arms. I heard sounds like you’re playing a guitar. It taught me that I could be quiet. -J, 8

My saguaro was worn down like a person who has known hardship. It sang like a rainstick.  -Lisa, 33

I noticed the saguaro had dead skin, when they die they turn into skeletons. I heard wind, plants moving. It taught me how to move. I learned saguaros can be nice. -K, 13

The saguaro taught me that having personal time once awhile is good. I feel energetic. I noticed that my saguaro was big and I felt like it was a big family.  -T, 17

There was a hole that went through three of the ribs perpendicularly. It felt good for my soul to notice something else in nature so closely. I heard the chatter of all the kids, the wind and the music we made on the saguaro. -Anna, 28

I noticed life springing out of every desert possibility, a great sunset, rising moon. I learned respect for the cactus. -T, 21

I noticed that the saguaro is so much more connected to the environment around it. From the gila woodpecker that had the burrow in the saguaro next to mine to the spider having its web in the spines of the saguaro. I felt a sense of peace sitting with the saguaro and while feeling the spines they won’t hurt you if you treat them with respect. -Matthew, 23

A saguaro reminds me what it takes to have a community. Saguaros allow wood peckers to drill homes into their bodies. Birds to rest, nest, food for all animals. They do all of this with patience, love, and tolerance. They as a plant give so much, and seem to ask only for a little shade and space. I respect and admire the saguaro for this.  -Treven, 22

Noticed–movement of the world around the saguaro. Feels–peaceful and significant. Loved the interpretive opportunities through silence and quality time. -Eric, 49

As a musician, my experience was fascinating to witness. I felt inside that I wanted to sing the song that the saguaro wanted to give me, but I was very aware of how that may clash with the other sounds I was hearing. It was a slight internal battle between the inner impulse and the outward experience. It made me realize how incredibly easy it is to become distracted by the strong and beautiful voice of nature in our world. Even when the focus was to give all of my attention to the saguaro, it was a struggle. There was a moment when I walked further away and then felt really connected in voice and body and I started to move. A lovely experience. -Katie, 38

This was a unique experience. The setting is magnificent, and the dispersion of musical artists created a moving, changing symphony. Combined with the natural setting, it all combined to be a sensual as well as auditory masterpiece. -Kevin, 78

Saguaro was tree, 7 arms, and swaying in the wind. No birds appeared at the holes in the saguaro. Thought: This plant is maybe 200 years old: a microperspective against the blue sky and on nights: the cosmos: sense connection with nature: desire to hike, camp out here. -Bill, 77

My new friend, the saguaro, had 5 large arms and at first I thought, wow, what a strong, magnificent desert creature. As the wind blew I could hear it whistle through the pleats and thorns. The saguaro swayed ever so slightly and it made me think of our violent monsoon season and how vulnerable such a tall, many armed saguaro can be. I hoped it would stand tall during a violent storm! -Suzy, 45

Saguaro created shade, music, habitat support to vine plants. Stay deeply rooted in my self and stand upright with beauty and strength. -Issa, 53

My saguaro taught me how much I miss stillness and silence and that maybe I can find some each day even if I’m not standing with a big old quiet cactus. -Eve, 47

I felt a grounded energy. It was calming. When I closed my eyes I saw a red/pink color. The music was beautiful and helped set the mood. It is peaceful out here and it felt as if I was in a forest of saguaros. -Natasha, 43

This was a wonderful and spiritual experience. I will come back to sit with the saguaro again, with the group and/or alone. The saguaro taught me the value of standing tall and alone and yet to be connected to…everything. It taught me to be still and present. I wasn’t sure how the music would fit it. I loved, loved, loved the music. I noticed the more still and quiet I became the more aware I became of sites: the swaying of the saguaro, birds, the musicians, the people quietly moving. And the sounds: wind, voices, birds, insects, music, children, movement. I hope to make this part of my spiritual practice. Thank you. -Kim, 55

We learned that saguaros can touch the sky. We learned that saguaros are good for making friends. And that hiking at night makes you really tired. 🙂 -Jen, 41 and Eva, 4

It was peaceful, and the saguaro made my body smile.  -Corinne, 48

Stillness, peace, vitality. love the noise of the breeze through the needles. I like thinking about how long the saguaros has been there. What has it seen? -Lauren, 25

Phillips was a chubby, adolescent saguaro. He was happy that we have had beneficial rains the last few years. He did not mind the whisper of the wind, as his roots are strong. -Ryan, 31

The swaying of the saguaro in the wind and the eerie yet soothing sound of the breeze passing through the spines almost seemed like two friends whispering secrets while dancing through the desert. The high rise apartments contained many ‘rooms’ of cactus moths and sheltered small flies, a small wasp and spiders. -Tony, 30

I felt calm while hanging with my saguaro. I noticed how soft the cactus was between the ribs and counted some spines.  -Nicole, 24

I noticed that the cactus swayed with the wind. I heard that the cactus’ arms made the wind blow in a certain way that sounded like a whistle. I felt at peace around the saguaro. The saguaro taught me that a little peace and quiet is good.  -Gabriel, 18

I noticed that it is unique plant then I use to think because of how long they take to grow and how much water they can store. I heard wind blowing by it and it was making some interesting sounds. I felt some kind of friendship when standing by it and at the same time, I felt like it was going to fall on me. -Ajang, 17

Not just one, but instead, this place of bridesmaids, of communion girls, of quinceañera, offering their flowers to the birds.  -Beth

I heard the whistling wind running through the saguaro. I learn how to make music with saguaros.  -Angelo 18

Breath. Movement. Wind across my skin. A dance with the saguaro, a dance with nature. An opportunity to be still. To notice. To feel. Changes in light offered changes of perspective. Rooted. Quiet. Sharing space with a new friend.  -Jess, 33

The Ha:sañ always makes life feel more peaceful. The sounds of the desert, the birds calling, the wind blowing, and I enjoyed taking my shoes off afterwards and walking through the wash. Reminiscing about times when I used to play and run the desert, my playground, my escape, my free-to-do-whatever I want. Thanks for the invite. -Tina, 30




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