Each spring/early summer I am greeted with a nice surprise–blooming roses! The previous owner must have liked roses, as they were the only living plants in my yard when I bought the house–2 full sized rose bushes and 3 miniature bushes. The full sized bushes look quite old, but after some generous rainfalls the first spring I lived here, I saw buds start to come to life. I was excited to see them bloom and thought of my Grandma (who would have been 105 years old yesterday!) and her carefully nurtured backyard paradise. I noticed one day as I hurriedly ran out the door, that my roses smelled just like Grandma’s backyard. I stopped, looked closer, and then drank in the sights and smells of my two blooming rose bushes. They were different types of roses, I noticed for the first time. One was pinker and the other a more peachy tone. The peachy ones smelled better, but weren’t as pretty as the pink ones and they both offered their gifts of beauty to one who appreciated it, but was often too “efficient” to notice the offering.
I’ve lived in this house for three springs now and I’ve developed a rule–I cannot, under any circumstances, walk past my roses without stopping to smell them. In fact, sometimes their thorns even reach out and grab me as I hurry past if I try to ignore them. It’s a small reminder to enjoy the beauty of creation and not hurry past all the unexpected evidences of God. I’ll admit, there are times when I neglect watering them, and yet, they still bloom. Eventually, however, a dry spring or summer will come and they will cease their blooming. But when I water them, O how generous they are with their gratitude, blooming flowers sometimes even into the first snowfall! They are unexpected blessings and scented reminders of fruitfulness.
So it is with our spiritual lives. We can get by for a short time on “showers of blessings” but what a true spiritual blessing it is when we position ourselves for God’s gracious outpouring of love and righteousness by turning our attention daily to God. In my prayer book today, I read Isaiah 50:4,
Lord Yahweh has given me a disciple’s tongue, for me to know how to give a word of comfort to the weary. Morning by morning he makes my ears alert to listen like a disciple. The Lord Yahweh has opened my ear.
Even stopping to smell the roses helps me to listen and sustains this weary disciple with a word from God. And so, I have a rule. A rule to stop and smell the roses when they are in bloom. And to water them when they are not, so as to wait expectantly for when they are ready.