Are You This Rose?

In the U.S., we celebrated Father’s Day the other day, so happy belated Father’s Day to those of you who are dads, even if you don’t live in the U.S. And speaking of dads, the winners of Stacy Nyikos’s picture book, Toby (illustrated by Shawn Sisneros; published by Stonehorse Publishing), are two dads. First, if you’re wondering who Stacy is, check out the interview here.

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Now, let’s get to those winners! Without further ado, they are

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Phillip McCollum and Charles Yallowitz!

Congrats, winners! Please confirm below and I’ll snail mail the books to you. By the way, each copy was signed by Stacy and comes with a bookmark. Sweet!

Moving on, let me satisfy your curiosity (if any) about the post title. First, take a look at the photo below. That’s the rose to which I refer. I’ve written about roses before. Oddly enough, I keep learning lessons from them unexpectedly.

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A few days ago, my stress level had tripled thanks to some issues with a freelance project. Ever have one of those days when everything seems to go bad like food forgotten in a refrigerator? That was the kind of day I’d had. I felt like quitting before I could be booted off the project like someone I know had been. My soul felt rubbed raw thanks to some feedback I received.

When a day goes sour, I do what I usually do (besides grab the nearest pint of ice cream)—I headed out for a drive. As I headed outside, I spotted the rose and took a photo. I’m glad I did, because a day later, the branch was barren. Perhaps someone plucked it, since I didn’t see any petals on the ground. But when I saw that rose, instantly my blood pressure decreased.

This lone rose—the product of a prickle-lined cane—reminds me of the struggle to persist despite daunting circumstances. That’s about as far as I can go with the fancy talk. I wanted to come up with metaphors and other poetic language. I even had aspirations of writing a poem—an ode to a rose by a brick wall. But I’m feeling too raw and too lacking in creative juices these days. So I’m telling it straight—without a chaser. But even though I don’t have the right words, I’m still amazed that a thing of beauty like a rose springs from something that looks like the perfect symbol for pain.

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What kind of rose is your life blooming? Perhaps the painful prickles make you doubt you could ever produce anything beautiful. Maybe they make you forget that your life is beautiful. Sometimes I forget that, especially when I doubt my ability to do anything right. That’s why I needed to see that rose, to be reminded that beautiful things are often born out of pain.

Rose cane from mooseyscountrygarden.com. Rose photo taken by L. Marie.

A Rose in the Shadows

Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days!
Come near me, while I sing the ancient ways . . .
In all poor foolish things that live a day,
Eternal beauty wandering on her way.
“To the Rose upon the Rood of Time” by William Butler Yeats (1893)

I took the photo below on the side of my apartment building. I had to bend down to snap it, having nearly passed it by in my haste to get to my car. But a flash of red had caught my eye, and I discovered a rose almost hidden in the shadows—a little bit of beauty to brighten my day.

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More than once my father has advised me to slow down and pay attention to life. Otherwise, by rushing through it, I might miss the tiny bursts of beauty and wonder along the way.

It’s like the old saying: “Stop and smell the roses.” You’ve heard it and you understand it. But do you also think about the people, animals, or items you almost pass by—little pockets of beauty begging to be noticed? Like the child who offers you a shy smile at the grocery store. Or your beaming four-year-old who stops you on your way to work just to hand you a hard-to-decipher drawing made just for you. Or how about your elderly uncle or aunt whose nuggets of wisdom are sometimes discounted by others but seldom wrong? And what about that bird whose song wakes you up in the morning—a concert you get free each day? Unlike the rose by my apartment building, you can’t see it. The early morning shadows keep it hidden away. But you can listen and be inspired. While you’re at it, you might as well take in the sunrise—nature’s daily fireworks free of charge.

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Do your soul a favor. Stop. Look. Listen. You never know when you might find a rose hidden in the shadows.

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Sunrise photo from wallpaprer.com.