Reader alert: it is Spring, and therefore it is time for my annual garden analogy blog entry. I just can’t help myself. But no kudzu this time, I promise.
Instead, this year, the topic is roses. Somewhere, a long time ago, when we first moved into this house on Capitol Hill, I read an article that said planting roses in front of possible entries that might invite, shall we say, unwelcome visitors, was an excellent way to use landscaping to increase the security of your home. And so I proceeded to plant climbing roses in front of the ground floor windows of each apartment. In front of one house, I planted a beautiful white climber that has prospered and become a giant over the years of its life. In front of the other, I planted some beautiful but less successful red rose trees that have proven ungainly and difficult to manage. About three feet from the white roses, I also planted a bush of my mother’s favorite rose, the lovely orangey striped rose known as a Peace Rose.
For years, all of these flowering bushes and vines have coexisted, alternately producing luscious blossoms and testing my patience with bugs and fungus in the drier months, but each year they have returned and produced their own beautiful red, white, and orangey blossoms.
Until this year.
This year, when I looked over my floral bounty I saw something new: amid the red roses of the rose trees, there were pink roses on the same stem. And, in the midst of the copious white blooms, there were Peace roses growing from the white rose vine.
At the age of 14, I received a lot of awards for my science project about plant propagation and grafting, including a trip to the city-wide science fair. I learned all about propagating from cuttings and grafting, and actually grafted an apple to a pear tree successfully. Obviously, this early success did not lead to a career in botany or the development by me of some new radical species of plant. But it did leave me with enough information to cause me to be very curious when I saw the fruits of my rose garden in 2012.
Why did the white rose mix with the red rose and make pink? Why did the Peace rose retain its nature and form but still choose to grow together with the white rose? And what makes the white rose so frisky this year that it mixed with everything around it (perhaps this question is for another discussion). And, being no botanist, but someone very interested in how people relate with one another in community, I couldn’t help but ask what does all this say about we humans as people in community.
Okay, yes, relationship and community are topics always on my mind. These things are particularly on my mind as I visit and examine the possibilities for me at different academic institutions, and the meaning of those possibilities for the next stages of my life and my spiritual journey, and the meaning of these changes for the communities in which I exist.
My conclusion? I think for most of my life I have been more like the red rose, blending into my nature the strong influence of the community in which I live and work. But I think that right now, it is time to be more like the Peace rose, a clear expression of my unique self, but an integral part of the vine that brings me and my community life and growth.
I think it is going to be hard to be that Peace rose. But I’m going to give it a try.