when the roses speak

rose bush

This rose bush ought to be dead.

It endured life-threatening thirst last summer, to the point that it was no more than a bundle of bone-dry branches.

It braved a midsummer transplant into sandy soil, where its desire for water was teased but not satisfied.

It suffocated under four solid months of snow, no one caring whether it was winter hardy.

bell blossomsdimnent chapel

Anywhere in the last twelve months, the rose could’ve given up the ghost. We would have understood. Drought, ill-timed transplant, relentless winter—any one of those would have been reason enough for the rose to sigh and sink into the oblivion of worm-crossed soil. This world is too, too hard.

chives cyclamen

But when the roses speak, I pay attention.

And this one is saying, “Quit your bellyachin’.”

“I survived without water. I weathered your foolhardy transplant. I waited out the winter.”

“It’s easy to pray for sustenance, home, sunshine. It’s much harder to pray that your spirit will endure when those things are not as you’d like. It’s easy to justify your anxiety, fatigue, belligerence, blaming it all on the tough times. It’s much harder to overcome those vices of spirit despite the conditions.”

hydrangea sprouts front tree

Lord, have mercy.

Bring new life.

pink blossoms IMG_3360_2

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When the Roses Speak, I Pay Attention
Mary Oliver

“As long as we are able to
be extravagant we will be
hugely and damply
extravagant. Then we will drop
foil by foil to the ground. This
is our unalterable task, and we do it

And they went on. “Listen,
the heart-shackles are not, as you think,
death, illness, pain,
unrequited hope, not loneliness, but

lassitude, rue, vainglory, fear, anxiety,

Their fragrance all the while rising
from their blind bodies, making me
spin with joy.



4 thoughts on “when the roses speak

    • Here, here! I really have nothing to add, but only wish to silently reflect and savor these sweet words, and click “like” as the digital version of the “mmm” we sometimes can’t help but let loose during good prayers. “Like”!

  1. Pingback: stay, stay | Forsythia Root

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