I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valley. Songs 2:1
They proliferate in untouched areas; the ditches, pastures, shelterbelts. Unseen most of the year, the bushes lie incognito until mid-June when blooms open overnight and gorgeous blushing hues suddenly saturate the countryside with vibrant, fragrant life. Alberta is home to the unpretentious, yet stunning, wild rose.
Every year I am delighted at their friendly magnificence. My heart leaps for joy at the sight. Could anything be more perfect? It’s a rose, a baby rose, in the ditch!! Try to resist a deep inhale. Oh, the scent! It’s paradise. From the palest flesh tones to the deepest magenta, their tender petals are so endearing. Savor the moment though, because these beauties and their velvety perfection are gone as stealthily as they appeared.
You have only to smell it to know the wild rose is definitely a rose, but unlike its overblown, green-house cousins, it’s not trying to steal the show. It’s not high maintenance. It blooms in sweet serenity for couple precious days, content with humble environs. For me, the wild rose is not only beautiful, but exemplifies something wonderfully elusive. The closest I can come to capturing the idea is to use the word graciousness.
Graciousness is so many things – courtesy, generosity of spirit, kindness, tactfulness, even delicate consideration for the dignity of others. So often, magnanimity manifests in hospitality, open-heartedness, self-effacing helpfulness and genuine affection. It exemplifies a spirit looking for ways to help another – the unmistakable reflection of divine grace present in the heart.
If there’s one thing missing in our times, it’s got to be graciousness. We live in such a dreadfully obnoxious age. Simple good manners seem to be the exception, rather than the rule, and to stumble across authentic cordiality is a marvel. Remember when people actually invited one another spontaneously over for lunch after Church, and no one expected a big production? If the house wasn’t picture-perfect, so what? Neighbors used to drop in on each other, just because they were passing by, and nobody got huffy about busting up their important schedual. There was a time when someone stopped to help with a flat tire or chivalrously offered assistance just for the joy of it. Even Christians these days seem unwilling to go out of their way in any measure for selfless, volunteer work or benevolent ministry, within or without the Church. Apparently, it's not a priority.
In an age of rampant narcissism, what does natural, untrammeled beauty of personality and character really look like? What is honorable largess? Show me gallantry! In a dangerous world teeming with the razored edges of injustice, discrimination, chauvinism, bigotry, sexism and a thousand other malignant ills, how can one possibly become the rare individual of God’s dreams? The wild roses of the Kingdom? Without losing the wild edge of creative individualism, becoming a mature spiritual adult, authentic, vulnerable and full of goodness, is not simple, but what a forceful expression of the Lord’s magnanimous heart and His inexhaustible love of beauty it really is! It takes us back to Eden.
The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, Even with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, The excellence of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, The excellency of our God. Isaiah 35:1-2
It’s worthy of note that the roses bloom around Father’s Day. One typically thinks of roses as for the girls, but the Lord has an awesome sense of humor. Maybe, with the overlap of timing, He’s trying to spotlight the rarity and remarkableness of a great father. Most of the time being an exemplary father is an unappreciated, strenuous job, with no clear-cut blue-print. As a man, being true to your faith and raising a family successfully is not for the faint of heart. Great conviction, commitment and stamina are required. Parenting is a gracious rose-bush, fighting for ground with the thistles, trees and other weeds. You’ve got to know how to bloom when no one’s watching – when there are no tangible rewards. There aren’t many times when the magnificence of a father’s heart is showcased, but when it happens, the glimmering moment is spectacular. In the faithfulness of a man, we see the enduring lovingkindness of Abba Himself.
Lord, help my selfish little heart to comprehend your graciousness and make it my own. Let me walk gently and nobly in simple ways. I want to smell good.
A rose does not answer its enemies with words, but with beauty. Matshona Dhliwayo.
Image by Google