It came in a moment of supreme frustration. “You make it look like your life is a bed of roses!” For some weeks now, these words have played on and off in my mind.
When they were uttered in a heated moment, my first inclination was to dismiss them, for I have learned that charges leveled in a voice of accusation should not be grasped tightly, caught up to one’s chest. (The voice of Love, to whom my ear is inclined, rings differently. Love, you see, can say hard things, but they will come wrapped in healing and hope. Not destruction.)
“A bed of roses. That’s how you make it look.”
Today, driving home, the light dawned. The person who uttered the words? She got it right. Nailed it in the heart, and I saw the truth at once. Blood-red roses, sheaves and sheaves atop a bed, which represented my life. Beautiful red roses with their ethereal aroma, and each and every one bearing thorns.
Roses and thorns. Beauty and pain. Translucent glory and suffering. Yes, oh, yes! That’s my life.
I’ve been pondering this Christmas season on the great gift it is to have children who truly love each other. For two weeks, our four sons are all back under our roof. If you’ve heard the story of our oldest son, you will know what a fragile and priceless blessing it is, having them together again.
Every day, I hear bass voices laughing. Talking. Conferring. Debating. Insulting in the language of love á la men. A thousand times a day, someone’s molars are pillaging my village, foraging in the fridge, and telling someone else what to do.
“When we get home, we’re having words, and by ‘words,’ I mean we’re goin’ straight to physical altercation.” This is an actual quote. Whereupon someone actually did get squished and pounded, and the father of them all turned pale as they thrashed on the nicest couch we’ve got. This is how they express their affection, and I will never get over the joy it gives me, this band of brothers and their love.
The reason our sons are so close, not only to each other, but to their dad and I? The reason for their faith? The reason for our strong and happy marriage? All of it has its roots in the pruning–the pruning of us by God.
Prizewinning roses, I am thinking today, must be tended with the greatest of care. A master gardener knows how to fertilize, where to snip, how much (and when) to prune them back. The expert wields his blade with precision, knowing that with time, the plant will heal and will produce vastly superior blossoms, and lots of them.
It is Mercy’s hand that prunes the rose. It is Love that tends to its needs. It is Hope that knows what the bush can become, and it is Faith that says the ‘yes.’
Through all of our trials and tests, we have found the grace to say ‘yes.’ We have not demanded that the Gardener stay His hand, though we have writhed at times under the blade. What you see now is the result of a thousand ‘yeses’ and the miraculous effects of God’s grace.
When obedient faith yields to Mercy and Hope, Love brings the deepest healing. And beauty. Yes, Love always brings that.
For this life and my bed of roses, I give thanks. May you, too, find the grace to say ‘yes.’ May you, too, find such healing, and beauty, and hope, and pure love.