Roses and Thorns

Roses and Thorns

What’s more beautiful than the brilliance of a fully bloomed red rose? What fragrance is more soothing than the quiet sweetness of its rich aroma? The red rose is possibly the most popular of all flowers. At special times lovers share the joy that roses bring, a smile, a gentle kiss, a warm embrace for the thoughtfulness for the giver and a tug of the heart, mind and spirit for the receiver. The exchange of the sweet gestures symbolizes a deep love and affection between the two.

The essence of a perfectly sculptured rose is breathtaking. Special occasions, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, other celebrations of life and just because, are only a few reasons that roses adorn the tables in finely etched, crystal vases. Just like many other delicate, cherished things of beauty, the rose must be handled with care as not to prematurely lose the red petals that accents the overall meaning and presence of the flower. Petals are the stunning, outer covering of the rose. However, the sharp  prickly thorns must be handled with care. I have often wondered why something of such great splendor could extract such pain with only one tiny movement. In a matter of seconds discomfort can emerge, and sometimes even a drop of blood at the slightest touch. I have asked myself, “Why does an object of such splendor cause so much pain?” “Why do we have to be as careful as not the turn moments of pleasure and celebration, into an unpleasant experience?

 In the article, What is the purpose of the thorns on a rose bush?, Lisa Gillespie Barrett states mankind has been infatuated by roses and their thorns throughout history. In “The Nightingale and the Rose” by Oscar Wilde, the bird allows its heart to be pierced by a rose thorn, magically turning a white flowering rose to red through a trickle of blood. She expounds on the abstract idea of love’s sacrifice was symbolized by a thorn. But in their natural environment, rose thorns serve a more concrete purpose. The purpose of prickles, or rose thorns, is to protect the plant from predators. Although humans propagate roses for the purpose of continuance of the many species through modern cultivation, roses do not distinguish between the human caretaker and a Japanese beetle. Therefore, we are recognized as predators by the rose, whether nurturing the plant or picking flowers for a bouquet.

These facts concerning the purpose of thorns, have served to enlighten me about the reason behind the potential pain while enjoying something as captivating as a rose. How significant is this explanation as we encounter life’s joys and sorrows, victories and defeats. Pain is essentially a part of the beauty of life. Maybe the thorns in our lives are there to protect us from predators that seek to rob us of love, mercy and the grace of God. While listening to an interview with Oprah and Rick Warren, he talked about the acronym SHAPE that he uses to remind himself of what he sees as elements that construct our lives. He stated that S symbolizes our spirit, H-health, A-attitude, P-personality and E-experience. Warren emphasized the single most motivating experience that causes the greatest change in our lives is pain. The pain we encounter whether it is a tiny break in the skin from the prick of a thorn, or a broken heart, the loss of a love one, failed relationship, a wayward child, financial disaster, job loss, it all hurts.  The wounds, from whatever source, can often cause such excruciating pain that we feel we will not survive, but we do. Sometimes we do not know exactly how we endured; we only know for sure that it is by the grace of God we are still here, alive, breathing and given another chance. The pain doesn’t always dissipate but sometimes remain as a reminder. Paul ask the Lord to remove the thorn from his side three times but God chose to allow it to  remain as a reminder for Paul that it was through his weakness that he is strong, (II Corinthians 12:7-10). Paul later proclaimed, I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13).

Lisa Gillespie Barrett, continued in the article, What is the purpose of the thorns on a rose bush?, stating “centuries of romancing with rose thorns have been written by writers, poets and song composers. The purpose of the rose and its thorns in literature has been to symbolically portray the relationship of love, beauty and pain suffered in different life affairs.” No one who operates with reasonable mental capacity has an insatiable desire to suffer.  As I was reading a book by Charles Stanley, entitled Handle with Prayer, it took me a lot longer than usual to complete it, because I kept going back over scriptures, words, sentences, paragraphs, pages and chapters. This was part of an enormous effort to absorb God’s truths, to make them more meaningful and relevant in my life as I experience growing pains. How I relish the exquisiteness and savor the soft, sweet smell of the roses in my life. As much as I surrender under its magnificence, there are times when I have desperately sought to escape painful pricks of life’s thorns. As a result, a commitment was made, which has proven to be quite challenging. With the help of God, I am bound to pursue ways to learn how to get through difficult issues in life and become stronger, as opposed to, seeking to get out of stressors, only to continue to revisit the same throbbing discomforts of my past. A decision has been made; I want and need both the radiance of roses and the protection given by thorns.

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