On the day I write this, I mark 21 years since my father’s sudden, fatal heart attack. You’d think I’d be over it; I’m not. On this day, I had yet another reminder…my roses always come with thorns.
Beware the Ides of March
It’s not the date I remember, it is that it was the Ides of March. I might have let the day pass without notice, except for a reference in the morning news, not to the date, but to the day. A torrent of sadness flooded over me, the thorn.
As I rushed into my office, looking forward to the final day of my work week, the news came that a piece I had written was the lead story featured by an online media outlet considered the “most influential media source” in its industry, with more than 50k daily email subscribers and over half a million page views monthly; the rose.
Sadness & Joy
Even if I’d wanted to linger in sadness, there was joy. Just six months ago, I worked for someone who made me question my capacity as a writer. I am clear that writing is both calling and gift, and even as the content is secular, the act is sacred. Just six months ago, our family was engaged in the fight of our lives to save one of our own, battling a deadly disease; writing daily was practice and worship, an anchor. Our battle was the thorn, returning to the words was the rose.
My roses come with thorns; they always have. I am reminded of King Solomon’s words,
It is good that you should take hold of this, and from that withhold not your hand, for the one who fears God shall come out from both of them.Ecclesiastes 7:18 (ESV)
His words are said to be a caution not to take hold of extremes, to seek balance. For one who is in awe of and respects God, who is humble, and has renounced their own righteousness, shall be free.
My Roses have always Come with Thorns
The day I opened an invitation to contribute to the (in)courage devotional Bible was also the day I read that a fellowship I helped found turned its back on me; rose, thorn.
I look at almost any trial of my life and see a flush of roses among the thorns. The perspective has taught me, in the words of my MIL teaching an old wisdom, “joy and sorrow live in the same house.”
There is an ancient Farsi proverb, “he who wants a rose must respect the thorn.” I read that and envision balance. When I am at my highest, I am mindful that thorns lay below the blooms. When I am so weary and heartbroken that I cannot lift my head, I am grateful that my daffodils carpet the ground, pushing insistently through the snow.
Those are my roses and my thorns, my inevitable reminders that NOTHING stops those who won’t stop. They are also a cautionary tale about balance, taking all things in stride, remembering to count it all joy, and though weeping ay endure for a night, joy comes in the morning, and stays for a while.
As always, it is a miracle and a joy to be so dearly beloved by God, roses with my thorns.