"Roses grow upon briers, which is to signify that all temporal sweets are mixed with bitter...
...But what seems more especially to be meant by it, is that true happiness, the crown of glory, is to be come at in no other way than by bearing Christ's cross by a life of mortification, self-denial, and labor, and bearing all things for Christ...
...The rose, the chief of all flowers, is the last thing that comes out. The briery, prickly bush grows before...
|Rosa 'Spice' in our garden near Pensacola, February 2013|
...but the end and crown of all is the beautiful and fragrant rose." --Jonathan Edwards, from Images or Shadows of Divine Things
Here it is the middle of February 2013, and my new favorite rose bush, "Spice," an antique rose, is blooming like it's already the month of May. The shrub was a thank-you gift to me from Dr. Gary Knox, a horticultural research scientist with the North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy, Florida. I had helped his assistant with some project or other, and he knew that I would be leaving the Tallahassee area soon (in March 2012) to return to our home near Pensacola. I can't think of a nicer parting/homecoming gift than a rose bush like "Spice." In its first year in my garden, it has resisted many of the problems common to roses in Florida, detailed in this UF/IFAS article written by Dr. Knox, et al.
"Spice" shrugs off black spot and Cercospora leaf spot, and the latter disease has been known to K.O. even the Knockouts, according to another IFAS rose article. In fact, only two roses, "Mrs. B. R. Cant" and "Spice," were mentioned in the article as reliably resistant to both diseases.
Besides its hardiness in the heat and humidity at our Florida home, "Spice" has another helpful habit: hardly any thorns (briers or prickles). It's obviously not the ideal candidate for Jonathan Edwards' image of mortification. He must have had a Rugosa rose in mind when he wrote his treatise.
Is a Rose truly a Rose if it hasn't any thorns?
A bull would find its head quite bare if it hadn't any horns.
The prickly parts of life that catch us unaware
Are meant for us to bear
So say some wise spiritual guides
Who line up on the sides
Of life's path we try to navigate
And tell us what will trip us up and how to mitigate
The punishment awaiting us if off the path we stray
It's best to listen to the words they say
But add to that the task
Of taking in the written Word that makes you want to ask
Why am I here and how should I live my life?
The questions hold the keys to faith, the answers not in strife
That trips us up and messes up our mind
That thought we knew the key to happiness was simply being kind
But love is what's required, the kind we'd like for self
The sort of love we'd keep reserved and on our private shelf
That if exposed to everyone we'd think would run right out
But if it's Love that Eternal Springs and requires Sacrifice--
The more Divine the source of it--the corporeal, the temporal simply won't suffice...
(After he read my post, SAM said it appeared that Mr. Edwards had written the poem, when in fact it was mine, written this very morning).