There's just something about roses that draws us in. Captures our imaginations. Romances us. Satisfies our soul's sweet tooth. Feeds our songs and poetry and beautifies our world. Something that makes growing them profoundly worth our while.
Roses are pretty finicky in these parts. Too little rain, and they dry up, wizened under prairie skies. Too much, and they are susceptible to fungal diseases. Not at the right times or right quantities, and I'm out with a watering can to supplement or their bud count drops.
Roses are high maintenance guests. Pests love to nibble them - leaves, buds, flowers are a virtual smorgasbord. Deer find them irresistible. They are 'heavy feeders' - they drain the surrounding soil of nutrients in their greedy growth cycle, and require additives to keep them healthy. They need to be 'dead-headed' (spent blossoms must be removed) or they produce seed heads which deplete the plant's resources. The list of diseases roses can be harbouring is staggering. Black spot, crown gall, mosaic virus, powdery mildew, rust - each causes unsightly damage which robs the rose of its star-power in the garden. Harsh Saskatchewan winters require a strict fall regimen to prepare plants to survive - and many times, they do not.
Beautiful creation gone wrong, I'd say.
One question remains - why even grow them? If they are so much trouble to maintain, why bother? Why not pull them out by the roots and leave them to their well-deserved doom? Why invest in materials and tools and knowledge to do battle on their behalf, coaxing them into bloom?
What is it about a rose that makes gardeners throw caution to the wind and plant one?
I wonder how much of this train of thought was present so long ago when God looked at the human plants in His earth's garden.
The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. Genesis 6:5,6
Beautiful creation gone wrong...
Humans are the roses of the created world, the crowning achievement of a highly ingenious creative urge. Delicate, intricate, incredibly beautiful. But, like our flowery counterparts, we are highly susceptible to disease, a soul-rot that robs our bloom and steals our potential glory.
So why bother with us?
What is it about a rose that makes a gardener crave its presence?
What is it about a person that makes God desire intimacy?
I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you. Isaiah 44:22
God looks at you and I and sees, not the hassles involved in removing our disease, but our blooming potential. He counts the time and energy required to remove our guilt and offenses - the fungal blight of humanity - as worth His effort to see the glory of our buds unfurling in His garden.
Do you know how valuable you are as a specimen in that garden?
What is it about a rose?
What is it about you, friend?