Here God lives, burrowing among
the petals, cross-
pollinating. Here is Christ’s mind
juiced, joined, fleshed, celled.
Here is the clash,
the roil, an invasion, not gentle
as dew; the rose is unfurled
violently until the scent explodes
and detonates in the air
And oh, it trembles—
thousands of seeds ripen in it as
it reels in the wind
~Luci Shaw from “Flower head”
It was gardener/author Alphonse Karr in the mid-19th century who wrote that even though most people grumble about roses having thorns, he was grateful that thorns have roses. After all, there was a time when thorns were not part of our world, when we knew nothing of suffering and death, but pursuing and desiring more than we were already generously given, we received a bit more than we bargained for.
We continue to reel under the thorns our choices produce — indeed every day there is more bloodletting.
So a rose was sent to adorn the thorns and even then we chose thorns to make Him bleed and still do to this day.
Yes, a fragrant flower of grace blooms beautiful,
bleeding amid the thorns,
and will to the endless day
that ever was and ever shall be.
There is a flower sprung from a tree,
The root thereof is called Jesse,
A flower of great worth;
There is no other such in paradise.
This flower is fair and fresh of hue;
It fades never, but ever is new;
The blessed branch where this flower grew
Was Mary mild who bore Jesu —
A flower of grace,
Against all sorrow it is solace.
The seed thereof was of God’s sending,
Which God himself sowed with his hand;
In Bethlehem, in that holy land,
Within her garden he found her there.
This blessed flower
Sprang never but in Mary’s bower.
When Gabriel this maiden met,
With “Ave, Maria,” he her greeted
Between them two this flower was set,
And was kept, no man should know it,
Until one day
In Bethlehem, it began to spread and spray.
When that flower began to spread,
And his blossom to bud,
Rich and poor of every seed,
They marvelled how this flower might spread,
Until kings three
That blessed flower came to see.
Angels there came out of their tower
To look upon this fresh flower —
How fair he was in his colour,
And how sweet in his savour —
And to behold
How such a flower might spring amid the cold.
Of lily, of rose on branch,
Of primrose, and of fleur-de-lys,
Of all the flowers I can think of,
That flower of Jesse yet bears the prize,
As the best remedy
To ease our sorrows in every part.
I pray you, flowers of this country,
Wherever ye go, wherever ye be,
Hold up the flower of good Jesse,
Above your freshness and your beauty,
As fairest of all,
Which ever was and ever shall be.
~John Audelay 15th century priest (translated from old English)