My grandmother has a remarkable way with flowers. I suppose you could say it is her destiny; after all, her name is Daisy Rose. Her Mississippi rose garden is a simple, straw-laden bed surrounded by wooden boundaries. Nothing fancy, just functional. The roses usually bloom twice a year, depending on that Spring frost that always comes. I never intentionally come when the roses are in bloom. Yet, somehow they bloom when I need an extra dose of beauty in my life. They bloom when the words, “Let’s get you some roses before you leave,” couldn’t sound any sweeter.
Although it is my grandmother’s garden, it is generally my grandfather who goes out with his cutting knife to reap the bounty.
“There’s a pretty one,” he says. He cuts the stem from the bush and within seconds, his blade skims its sides. He breaks off the thorns and hands the flower to me for safekeeping. “Be careful,” he advises, “There may still be a few on there.”
He handles each rose the same way. A swift severing from the bush and the paring down of the stem. The thorns fall to the ground. While a few thorns still remain, I can hold the stems and the bouquet in my arms begins to grow. I watch him do this over and over: finding a beautiful flower, cutting the stalk, skimming the prickly pieces, handing it over to me. Then it becomes clear:
Isn’t this always the role of the people who love us? To help us grasp beauty and soften the pain that comes with it?
So many people do this for me that I feel overwhelmed. The hands and knife may take on different forms but all have the same result.
Sustaining me with a listening ear and a compassionate glance. Thorns fall off.
Laughing boldly and contagiously in the midst of absurdity. Thorns fall off.
Walking ahead of me, showing me how to live openly and honestly. Thorns fall off.
Giving me permission to grieve and sit in uncertainty. Thorns fall off.
Feeding me good food and serving a stiff drink. Thorns fall off.
Refusing hopelessness on my behalf and pouring out grace. Thorns fall off.
Pointing out my own prickly pride and sanding it down by a loving presence. Thorns fall off.
Speaking Truth and reminding me of what is real. Thorns fall off.
Praying for the weariness to abate until it does. Thorns fall off.
Believing this one wild and precious life is worth living. Thorns fall off.
Sending me home with full arms and a full heart. Thorns fall off.