Sunday, November 19, 2006

The rose

Sometimes my father wrote very beautiful thoughts in his letters to me. I think he didn’t realise just how memorable his thoughts could be.

Not long before he died I received a letter from my father in which he was speaking about memories. He said that a happy memory is like a rose in a vase. It can always be taken out of the vase, held and admired for its loveliness. It can then be replaced with a prayer of thanksgiving to God and brought out again on another occasion when we need its beauty.

I think that’s a beautiful idea.

Just think, for a moment, that, within each one of us, our happy memories are a collection of beautiful roses. What colour are they? My favourite colour is pink, so I think I’d have a good number of pink roses. To me, pink is a happy colour. I can’t imagine anything sad if it’s pink.

For a start, I think I’d have a collection of pink roses to celebrate the births of my brothers and sisters. I don’t remember all of them being born, but I do remember dancing around my mother’s bed singing, “We’ve got a baby brother! We’ve got a baby brother!”

My First Holy Communion would be a very precious white rose. I remember my headmistress saying that the Emperor Napoleon, before he died, said that the most wonderful day of his life was the day of his First Communion. I made mine on 30th November 1958 and ever since then the anniversary has been a very important date in my calendar. Yes, a white rose for my First Communion.

What about our unhappy memories? Are they roses? Perhaps they are. Someone once wrote that there are two ways of looking at a rose: we can say isn’t it a shame that roses have thorns or we can exclaim that it’s wonderful that thorns have roses. Even in the middle of our most unhappy moments, there will be something, however small, that is good. That is the rose carried by the thorns.

Kahlil Gibran says that our joys and sorrows come from the same root. We are happy because the sorrow is not there and we are sad because the happiness is missing. That makes sense. In other words, everything, whether it is a happy or a sad memory, is a rose. It’s only the colour of the rose that makes it different. Every day of our life, from the moment we were born, we’ve been planting roses in our hearts. Every single one of us has been creating a garden of our lives. No matter what our advantages or disadvantages in life might have been, we’ve all had the possibility, every single day, to make our life a beautiful garden. Every single one of us has been planting roses.

Do we ever take the time to sit in our garden to enjoy the roses? Do we think to invite God into the garden of our hearts so that, together, we can enjoy the roses that are our memories? Do we share our memories with God and ask him to make sense of the painful ones?

Lord, ever since I was born, I’ve been planting roses in my heart. There is quite a garden inside me by this stage in my life. I’d like to invite you into my garden today. Some of my roses need pruning. Some of them need your gentle care. All of the roses of my memories need your blessing. Come, Lord, into the rose garden of my heart. Amen

God bless,
Sr. Janet