A few springs ago, after a long winter of devouring library books on Victorian and cottage style gardens, I went off to my favourite greenhouse (the Canadian Tire nursery). After walking up and down and yonder through the aisles looking at more rose varieties than I knew existed, I carefully selected two little rose bushes. Planting them beside our side door, my heart was full with visions of the beautiful arch of roses I hoped would grow.
What I didn't consider, however, were the harsh conditions the poor little bushes would endure, from the terrible cold of a Canadian prairie winter to how the door would continuously hit them as it opened, to how years later I would often snag one as I awkwardly attempted to clamber on the power wheelchair I now park by the door.
One bush died rather rapidly; the other hung on and struggled through the hardships. However, unlike in fairy tales, the bush that hung on was not rewarded for its commendable efforts with size and plenty: it remains small and rather scraggly to this day.
There is no sign of the beautiful arch of roses I once so proudly envisioned.
Nonetheless, a few nights ago, I discovered that the little bush has produced one perfect, stunning rose blossom. One bloom so beautiful it takes my breath away. I could not describe a more perfect rose.
It got me thinking. Lately I have felt like the rose bush that hung on. I have weathered harsh storms from within my own body. I've held on through years of endless pain and progressive physical losses. The result of all that effort of hanging on has not been grand worldly success: physically I have become frail before my time. The many dreams I once had are (for now at least) neatly folded away like clothing on a shelf.
I ache daily over those lost dreams. Big dreams, like of resuming the career I loved, or of adopting a house full of kids, or of traveling the world. Smaller dreams, like being able to walk across the grass in my backyard to plant a pumpkin in my garden, or to drive again, or to have the stamina to throw a party for my closest friends, and laugh the night away.
Right now my energy is saved for only the most important of things. Loving my family. Loving God. Loving the earth around me. Trying to regain ground with my health and strength. There is no arch of roses to be found.
And then..... I open my eyes and heart and I truly see what is before me. Like the little rose bush who hung on and now is graced with one exquisite bloom (and the promise of a few more) so too have flowers grown in my life. Perhaps because the flowers haven't exploded into an arch of roses, I cherish each small rose all the more.
I see flowers in the dreams that matter most of all, in the beauty of my daughter's smile, in knowing she is loved and safe and growing. I feel it when hugging my husband and in the friends whose love surrounds us. I deliberately write little here about my family because they deserve their privacy, but they are my everything. In the beat of my heart, they are my soul's metronome.
More dreams are realized each morning when the nurse helps me hobble out to my little chair on our back deck. It is then that I breath in sun and flowers and squirrels and the little sparrows that hop across the deck. I lift my arms as if to hug the sky- and am amazed when the Earth hugs me back.
These are the flowers of my life. It's not the giant arch I dreamed of. But it is beauty undeniably. And my heart stops crying over lost arches and instead bends to say thank you for what I've been bestowed.