A Rose is a Rose is a Rose. Or is it?

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Eager, I ripped open the long, thin box left moments earlier on my front porch, now laid out on my kitchen counter. Advertisement markings on the exterior offered a clear indication of the contents. Impatient to bury my nose in flowers, anticipation of aromatic bliss motivated swift fingers. I imagined vibrant colors bathed in rich, luscious fragrance.  Reaching into the bright green cardboard container I carefully removed twelve of the most stunning crimson long-stem roses I’d ever beheld.  I raised them to my beaming face expecting a glorious scent. I breathed deep. Breathed deep again. Nothing.

Not even a hint of the hoped-for nasal ambrosia. The only thing enveloping my olfactories? Disappointment.

I glanced back at the delivery box. ProFlowers. A thought raced across my mind and passed through my lips: What’s so ‘Pro’ about fragrance-free flowers?

In my mind I contrasted them with the bush growing just outside the back door of our family farm house. Once upon a time, a bare brown six-inch shoot poked out of the ground. For years I watched and marveled as Grandmother, then later Mother, tenderly cared for the burgeoning perennial. Each spring and summer, these devoted gardeners watered, weeded, fertilized, trimmed, and toiled over an emerging mini-shrub until blossoms and buds burst forth. Now the size of our riding lawn tractor, season after season this flowering cluster of roses floods Momma’s yard with the color of sacrifice and fragrance of heaven.

Thoughts and eyes returned to the elegant yet scentless roses in my grasp. I scurried to cut them as directed by a box insert, filled a vase, and arranged them in a captivating configuration to place on my table. At the time I didn’t understand why a tear leaked down my cheek.

Now I get it.

Florist-grown roses are indeed lovely to behold. By the time they arrive, they’re washed free of fertilizer and dirt. Roots stripped. Thorns removed. All in the name of delivering visual delight. The outcome—a skillful disguise of painstaking, messy, yet loving effort involved in growing something truly beautiful. Moreover, mass production robs roses of their fragrance. A considerable part of their intended purpose, stolen. They might as well be plastic. Except they die, never having accomplished what roses were meant for…filling a space with magnificent aroma.

As women, we face tremendous pressure to be the long stem rose rather than part of the bush. Society shrieks at us to not merely stand apart from the cluster but also to look good at all costs. Clean up the fertilizer {you know what I’m intimating here}. Shake off the dirt that soils our souls. Forget our roots, that which causes us to grow and venture deep. Throw away the prickly thorns that protect us from outside threats. Be pretty. And somewhere in the midst of mass-produced efforts to look pleasing to the outside world, we stifle our inner fragrance.

Why do we fight the struggle that makes us beautiful in the first place? What would happen if we exposed all parts of the rose to the world? Even the smelly, messy, prickly, painful parts? What splendid scent would be revealed in us if we acknowledged and embraced our gardening process, however labored or agonizing?

We are beautiful. Not because of something we drape on our body, dangle from our earlobes, smear across our face, or sweat off at the gym. We are beautiful because the Master Gardener devoted Himself to growing something of true loveliness in each of us. We are beautiful not in spite of the growing process but because of it. The ever vigilant Divine Caretaker comes alongside us to plant Truth in our hearts, Truth about our worth and significance. He saturates us with Living Water ever rising up, a spring of hope within us. He trims withered leaves and dark, crusty petals of unhealthy desires to expose radiant velvet, reflecting His Light.  He pulls ugly, smothering weeds, eliminating people and things that prevent us from thriving in His grand and gorgeous garden. He even allows us to be covered in “fertilizer” at times because He knows that without the elements of suffering, pain of loss, sadness of grieving, we bear limitations in how deep our roots stretch and how fragrant we ultimately grow.

The more willingly we cooperate with the Gardener’s tender toiling over us, the more regal the rose. True beauty results from embracing the thorns for the sake of the lavish, sumptuous scent God intended in us.

Will we settle for the scentless long-stem delivered in cardboard, destined to die without ever accomplishing its purpose? Or will we grow into a timeless, resplendent, redolent rose in the Garden of the Mater’s touch?

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2 responses to “A Rose is a Rose is a Rose. Or is it?

  1. Thanks Di for such a wonderful post. It’s the messiness of life that shapes all of us – men and women – into the people we become. Without the trials of life, we could not appreciate the joys.

  2. So this would explain why you prefer sunflowers cut from the side of a road to roses from a shop. Great insights, Di. I learn so much about women from you. Thanks and God bless!

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