The English playwright William Shakespeare once famously said, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Sadly, his usually timeless words no longer always hold true. Growers have bred the smell out of roses in their attempts to create the longer-lasting Frankenrose. To me it is absolutely criminal. The colors are beautiful but the joy of flowers for me is in their delicate, fragrant scent emanating from their velvet petals. From the earliest times people from around the world have held the rose close to their heart. The first known roses to have flourished were around 35 million years ago. Hips have been found in Europe and petrified rose wreaths have been unearthed from ancient Egyptian tombs. The Romans surpassed the Greeks when Nero, the infamous unspeakably cruel and hedonistic emperor in the first century A.D., dumped dumped tons of rose petals on his dinner guests. Cleopartra had her living quarters filled with the petals of roses so that when Marc Antony met her he would long remember her for such opulence. We find references to roses in Christian literature as well as in ancient Confucian and Buddhist religious documents. In the Medieval Period the first known paintings of roses are on frescoes. The earliest example was discovered in Crete around 1600 B.C. The apothecary rose was first recorded in the 13th century near Provins, France. It was believed to cure a variety of illnesses and was turned into jellies, powders and oils. For me at least, I always associate the much maligned Marie-Antionette with the rose. The era of modern roses was established with the introduction of the first hybrid tea rose, “La France”, by the French breeder Guillot in 1867. My favorite color is dark blue, and I have planted “Blue Girl” roses in our yard which are actually lilac. It is my understanding that the blue color is the last of the roses to be hybridized. The symbolism of rose colors is steeped in tradition. Red can represent love, beauty, courage, and respect. White can represent innocence, purity, and reverence. Pink can mean appreciation and gratitude. Yellow can mean joy, gladness, and friendship. (The state flower of Texas is the yellow rose; the “Friendship State.”) Lavender can mean love at first sight, while orange can represent desire, fascination, or enthusiasm. I have read stories about the legends of the blue rose — they represent true love and prosperity. In some cultures blue roses are traditionally associated with “blue”, or royal, blood. Thus the blue rose can also denote regal majesty and splendor. Due to the absence of blue roses in nature they have come to symbolize mystery and the longing to attain the impossible. I am fascinated with cross-breeding as long as it is natural — no dyes (as pictured above), no GMOs; nothing artificial. My favorite color dark blue still has not been able to be naturally bred. And the longing for it gives me something to desire. Without the true roses’ sweet smell however the achievement will have fallen short. My Grandmother Maris used to wear Rose Milk and I have never forgotten her scent. I shall remain ever hopeful for my beloved rose to one day reveal herself: with a smell sweeter than any lily and a color richer than the darkest blue in sky or sea. Mystery and longing; something well worth the wait. And how sweet it will be.
I have tried to stay busy today. I have avoided looking back on pictures too painful to recall, particularly at the end when she was dying. I lament her passing every day — so kind, so gentle, so loving, and so sweet: my mother. Today is her birthday. If it were not for her life, I would not have life. And if it were not for my life, my precious daughter would not have life. I thought about choosing a picture of my mother but there are so many … her youth, as a mother to me, and when she got older. So I decided to choose instead a picture of her namesake. She is the very spitting image of her; particularly in this picture with her hair so red from the sun. When I look at my child; I see her. And so instead of crying incessantly today I have tried to celebrate the woman I loved most in this world. I even bathed with her favorite soap of white flowers to bring back her scent. She is with me every time I hear Claire de Lune, which she played effortlessly on our piano. She is with me every time I see a cardinal, which was her favorite bird. She is with me when I make her meatloaf for my family. She always had a quiet, brilliant radiance of which she was not even aware that emanated from her. Her skin was so soft and naturally unwrinkled by the hands of time. But I can feel my daughter’s soft cheek and kiss the same full lips my mother had. She is with me as I read to my only child; just as she once read to hers. And she is with me when I think of her favorite scripture:
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
My mother is always with me and I have the blessed assurance I will be with her again one day. Until that day I will make sure she is with her namesake as well. Her gentleness, grace, beauty, and kindness live on. And I am so grateful to God for that.
When I was four I had a Big Wheel I rode absolutely everywhere. I remember Daddy got me this thing that sounded like a motorcycle revver for one of the handles. I thought I was so cool. Leap from 1974 to 2016; my girl fearlessly gets on her cute karate instructor’s bike without a moment’s hesitation. I don’t know whether to be proud or terrified. I got to sit on a real motorcycle or two in my day and I was always afraid the kickstand would collapse and it would fall over. However I have fond memories of my cousin Michael taking me through the mountains in California on the back of his bike when I was seven. It was the ’70’s so there were no helmets and I loved feeling the wind in my long, straight blonde hair and inhaling the scent of the pine trees as we blew by. He went fast and I hung on for dear life. I remember when he’d turn it felt like we were going to scrape the ground. I was a good girl growning up and I didn’t do anything wrong riding that bike with my grown cousin. But I know if Mama and Daddy had been there they would have had a lot of gray hairs from it. Of course I realize motorcycles can be dangerous, particularly in the city. But wow the joy of riding free through those hills and trees was something that has always stuck with me. It was exhilarating and I was able to simply enjoy the ride. Shortly after my husband and I got married we went around Christmas for our close friends’ wedding in New Mexico. We decided to go snowmobiling the next day in Durango and I was so paralyzed with fear (I don’t like to ski for the same reasons: heights and ice) he had to drive for us. Burk was so confident and assured and I remember being so grateful he got us through. I suppose we become more cautious as we get older. American actor Johnny Depp said, “I think the thing to do is enjoy the ride while you’re on it.” My little one did not really go anywhere, but I believe she did just that.
German-born American developmental psychologist Erik Erikson said, “Every adult, whether he is a follower or a leader, a member of a mass or of an elite, was once a child. He was once small. A sense of smallness forms a substratum in his mind, ineradicably. His triumphs will be measured against this smallness; his defeats will substantiate it.” When I was a little girl I always hated dresses and I particularly despised bows. My mother and I finally made a deal after kindergarten: I would wear a dress to make her happy for the first day of school and then I got to wear jeans and pants the rest of the year, except for church of course. We shopped at Sears and they had this brand called Toughskins jeans. If your kid could manage to put a hole in them you’d get a free pair. My mother got about three a year on average. I was recently dismayed to learn my much-more-femine-than-I daughter has been called a boy by other boys at school. She always wears dresses but does, for the most part, eschew bows. I adore anything French and I truly think she has a Rembrandt quality to her with her dark, French eyes when she wears them. However this picture is the very largest bow we ever wear; I cannot STAND “bow heads”. The poor little girls look like something out of Dr. Seuss — all bows, no faces, and (seemingly) no substance; just a big giant bow. To learn they called my beautiful girl a boy hurt me and reopened old childhood wounds of my own. I was a Tomboy and most girls were mean to me. I do not want that for my little one. I notice, like I was in school, she seems very popular but doesn’t really have any close friends. My husband and I are both lone wolves (as were my parents) and I wonder if she’ll be the same. She is fierce, independent, funny, kind, creative and brave. I think she is drawn to the boys much like I was — not because she is boy crazy; rather she is just more adventurous. However some of the boys are pushing her and hitting her. My mother was the sweetest woman in the world but very passive. My husband is also the sweetest man (next to Daddy) I have ever known but he is passive as well. I worry she does not have my aggression, and I lament the fact that the word itself is considered to be negative. Aggression to me is strength and assertiveness. She is always kind and gentle and will never hit back. I never hit anyone as a child either but my father made sure I stood up for myself. Tonight she earned her sixth belt in karate and it is my hope she will be quick enough to avoid their aggression in the future. If not, I hope she takes them down at the knees.
Today is the Highest Holy Day in all of Christendom. I chose this picture to reflect the absence of Christ on the cross. After all, that’s what this day is about. Jesus died for our sins by suffering death upon a cross, was buried, and ascended into heaven where He lives and reigns in union with the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. This is the Good Shepherd altar on the side of our main sanctuary. I love that the Church is rife with symbolism. Beneath the altar cross you can see on the left is an “A” and on the right, an “O”. These are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Jesus says in the last book of the Bible, Revelation, chapter 22 verse 13: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Also, notice the altar color is white. When the women came to the tomb to annoint Jesus’ body they found the stone had been rolled away and it was empty. Angels in dazzling white clothing told them Christ had risen from the dead. White also represents that Jesus has washed our sins away with His sacrifice and that we are made white as snow. The vestments and altars will remain white for the next 50 days, as Easter is not simply a day but a season in the church. There is a beautiful Gregorian chant inspired by Saint Paul’s letter to the Philippians (2:8-9) which says:
Christus factus est pro nobis obediens usque ad mortem, ad mortem autem cruces. Propter quod et dues exaltavit illum, et dedit illi nomen, quod est super omne nomen.
It translates: Christ was made obedient even to death, death on the cross. God therefore exalted him and gave him a name excelling all others.
These 50 days of Easter ask us to reflect on His presence and to be filled with joy knowing the risen savior is still with us, that God has not abandoned us; nor will He ever forsake us. So, with the Paschal greeting, Christians rejoice! Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
My mother was born on Good Friday and Easter was always her favorite time. She studied piano for many years and often spoke of the lavish Easter egg hunts her teacher threw for her pupils. In those days there were live chicks and bunnies given away (thank heaven society realizes that is wrong now, as people do not commit to the little animals for their lives and they wind up abandoned or worse). I have always loved Easter more than Christmas. And hunting for Easter eggs is the ONLY type of hunting I adore! Well, that and scavenger hunts. I grew up in an apartment and we really did not have anywhere to go so each year I would wake up and Mama had hidden eggs all over the living room. As I got older it became more difficult to find them all. She had a baby grand piano and I could always count on an egg placed carefully inside the wood before the strings. I think it was the nicest thing she ever did for me and I looked forward to it more and more with each passing year. Now they just dump eggs on the lawn and kids scramble for them; where is the fun in that? I am thrilled that my little girl gets to go to an elegant country club where they have the Easter Bunny, a lovely buffet, face painting, baby animals to pet, a pony to ride, and a colorful train in addition to the egg collection. But this is the year I am going to start my mother’s tradition of a real hunt inside our home. It will require time, patience, and thought. I have often wished my husband would do some type of treasure hunt for me. But of course the greatest gift any of us could ever hope to receive has already been given: through the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ who gave His life so that we all might live. The British Cardinal Basil Hume said:
“The great gift of Easter is hope – Christian hope which makes us have that confidence in God, in his ultimate triumph, and in his goodness and love, which nothing can shake.”
My little one will awaken tomorrow to an Easter basket full of goodies. But it is my hope that she will discover the joy of eternal hope through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. His treasures abound; we have only to see them.
I have always puzzled over the term “Good Friday” for the day Christ was crucified. In the Anglican and Episcopal church this is one of only two fasting days in the church calendar. I try not to remind my husband because he gets nervous and eats everything in sight! This is also a time for walking the Stations of the Cross. In a lot of “higher” churches (closer to Orthodox, Catholic and Anglican) there are a series of images all around the inside of the sanctuary depicting Jesus on this, the day of His crucifixion. The stations evolved from imitations of the Via Dolorosa (Way of Sorrows) in Jerusalem which is believed to be the actual path Jesus walked to Mount Calvary. The object of the stations is to help the faithful make a spiritual pilgrimage through contemplation of Christ’s Passion. Generally 14 images are arranged in numbered order along a path around the church. They are typically small plaques with reliefs or paintings placed around the church’s nave, or main body of the church. It provides the central approach to the high altar. The term “nave” is from medieval Latin which means “ship” and was an early Christian symbol. The stations vary but most commonly are:
- Jesus is condemned to death.
- Jesus carries His cross.
- Jesus falls the first time.
- Jesus meets his mother.
- Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross.
- Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.
- Jesus falls the second time.
- Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.
- Jesus falls the third time.
- Jesus is stripped of His garments.
- Jesus is nailed to the cross.
- Jesus dies on the cross.
- Jesus is taken down from the cross.
- Jesus is laid in the tomb.
Also, the Eucharist (the body and blood of Christ) is administered pre-sanctified (consecrated from the Maundy Thursday service). This is the only time the Christ candle is not lit to show He is not present and suffered in Hell before rising from the dead. I shall close this evening with the words of the traditional hymn by Venantius Fortunatus (530-609) used extensively in the Church’s public prayer and liturgy:
Faithful cross, above all other: one and only noble tree! None in foliage, none in blossom, none in fruit thy peer may be: sweetest wood and sweetest iron, sweetest weight is hung on thee. Amen.
Today is Maundy Thursday. In the Episcopal church and others, it is the beginning of the Paschal Triduum, the period which commemorates the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. It starts this evening with the maundy, or Washing of the Feet, Jesus performed for His disciples as mentioned in John 13: 1-17. In verses 14-17 Jesus instructs them:
“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; not is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”
This evening also commemorates the Last Supper; the final meal that, in Gospel accounts, Jesus shared with His Apostles in Jerusalem before His crucifixion. It is the scriptural basis upon which the Eucharist (Holy Communion) is founded. St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians contains the earliest known mention of the Last Supper. During the meal Jesus predicts His betrayal by one of the Apostles present. After this Mass all church bells are stilled and the organ is not used until the celebration of Christ’s resurrection Easter Sunday. In Anglo-Saxon times it was referred to as “the still days”. This is a time for reflection, prayer and repentance for the greatest sacrifice God has given to all of us. Jesus offered His life and suffered a terrible death on the cross so that we might live eternally with Him in heaven. We should all strive to have a servant’s heart and remember with the greatest of gratitude the ultimate sacrifice our Lord made for us. A French Franciscan priest once famously wrote: “For it is in in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” As we walk through this dark journey with Christ, remember He never will forsake us. He is the savior of all who believe. Thanks be to God.
When I was a little girl, I insisted upon taking my beloved stuffed animals with me wherever we went. I always started out carrying them proudly but eventually got tired of keeping up with them. I still hold loving images in my mind’s eye of my big, strong daddy clutching an armful of stuffed animals in public without an ounce of shame. As I got older I had to keep up with them myself or leave them at home. Our little one is very good about remembering her things. In this case she had her hands full carrying her new shoes and just couldn’t manage her dog, too. Looking at my husband standing there holding my four year old’s purse took me back to cherished times and precious memories with my sweet Daddy. I am so glad my girl will have the same experiences I had with a strong man who loves her and isn’t afraid to nuture that in whatever form it may take. So last night her Daddy took Sparkles the husky to the car without a trace of embarrassment and my heart was full. American author Kent Nerburn (writer of one of my favorite books, “Neither Wolf Nor Dog”) said, “It is much easier to become a father than to be one.” God graciously allowed my husband and me to have a child together, and that child is making him into a better man.
I really don’t think it’s my age; I am just not a fan of taking pictures of myself. I never have been. Do I want to be in some pictures? Certainly! I mostly want to be in vacation photos or with my family. But today I got the best pair of sunglasses I’ve ever bought in my life. They fit perfect, the lenses are polarized, and you can still see my eyes through them. I like that because I don’t like speaking with people when you cannot see their eyes. Best of all they are my favorite colors — dark blue and silver! I love that they’re mirrored and frankly I will not care when they are no longer trendy; I will still love them. They do not slip, pinch, or sit whompy-jawed on my face. They alter the color when I see out but not so as to be depressing by being too dark. And they are titanium so they’re super light. They don’t have a big hunk of weird plastic or huge “accents” on the side. They’re just great sunglasses I wish I’d had for the vacation we just took on spring break. But everything happens for a reason as well as in its own time and I am just thrilled I was able to get them. So thrilled I snapped this selfie at a stop sign after I’d put them on. I didn’t pose, wasn’t made up, or take 2,000 pics. I just wanted to capture the moment and remember how incredibly happy a pair of sunglasses made me. German-born writer Eckhart Tolle said, “The outward man is the swinging door; the inner man is the still hinge.” My new shades have me covered inside and out; pretty cool. 😎