Only A Rose

October 10, 2015 | Reflections from Sr Antonia

Small Rose PlantIt looked so fragile and vulnerable, thrusting itself up triumphantly amidst the assorted grasses and weeds. I stood in awe of it, marvelling at its existence.

Last year we had decided to dismantle our rose garden, transplanting the strong bushes to other areas and discarding those which seemed no longer viable. In its place we allowed the grasses to grow freely, in order to create an expanse of ‘lawn’ which is mowed regularly by our workmen. And yet here now, a year later, this little one insisted on its right to life.

‘Right to Life…’

So many levels and nuances of meaning in this phrase, with profound implications for the whole of our planet at all levels. But where it led me at this moment was to a feeling of reverence and awe for the ‘will to live’.

God breathed and spoke and there was life. God breathes and speaks and there is life still. Life struggles for life, fights and strains to win life over death. And often, against all odds, life triumphs: babies defy doomful predictions of the most eminent specialists and grow to full term, the parents sobbing for joy as they hold their ‘miracle baby’ in their arms for the first time; little rose plants shoot up from the ruins of a dismantled rose garden; wounds inflicted to flesh slowly, gradually heal. Life clings to life, and life is strong.

Rose Leaves

Yet… life is vulnerable. My first reaction to this little one was one of protectiveness. I saw the inevitability of its demise because, in a day or two, the grass would be mowed. I vowed to rescue it and to see if it could survive a transplant.

And that’s how I feel about all of life, especially human life. I want to protect the most vulnerable… the unborn foetuses, the terminally ill, the aged and infirm. Life does give way to new life, but it is God who is the author of new life and it is God who must be the author of the transition from this life to eternal life. Life is Sacred.

As a contemplative enclosed nun I am not helpless or powerless to “do something” about protecting and safeguarding vulnerable life in all its forms. Rather, it is my vocation to do so through my life of prayer. And I thank God for the gift of my faith in the power of prayer, and for my vocation to prayer on behalf of the whole of humankind with which God has entrusted me.

Twenty four hours had not passed before I returned to rescue the little rose, only to find nothing but a patch of bare soil. Someone else had already been there before me. I was not disappointed, but delighted!

Later, and in the following days, I have smiled to myself as I found myself humming the tune to an old song my father used to sing. The song began with the words of “Only a rose I give you…”

Pink Yellow Rose