There was a spell in my prayer a good while ago when Jesus gave me roses. I was drawn over and over to an image of a red rose and my spiritual director helped me stay with that simple experience and trust it. She suggested I let Jesus buy me one. So I did. And sat in my prayer for days just looking and smelling and relishing the God who gave me roses.
Many times after that I’d get the sense of Jesus saying, ‘time for a new rose’, and out I would go to get one. I still have most of those roses, dried, in a bowl in my room. A few years ago in a rather maudlin mood I was praying, holding one of those rosebuds–by then very dark and very crisp and a little dusty–and thinking of how fragile it was and how fragile many things in life can be. But then I caught the edge of its scent. Even after 10 years my roses still carried their fragrance. And I could sense Jesus saying to me, ‘they might be fragile but look, here they are–lasting, beautiful, constant’. They still are.
There is much that is fragile in my life right now but I am finding a constancy also, a beauty.
There’s a fine novel by Ron Hansen, Mariette in Ecstasy, that tells a tale of religious experience and fragility and faith and doubt. I’m going to do the unforgivable and quote you it’s final paragraph–so avert your eyes if you need to…
And Christ still sends me roses. We try to be formed and held and kept by him, but instead he offers us freedom. And now when I try to know his will, his kindness floods me, his great love overwhelms me, and I hear him whisper, Surprise me.
Fragility has its joys.
I have that book still, from a few years ago … I think a movie was made of it also, but didn’t see it. I wanted to be like her.
An off-subject Q – could you point me toward info on the Vatican observatory? Thanks.
Crystal: I don’t have anything unusual. I just did some quick googling and there’s loads. In addition to searching on ‘Vatican observatory’ I tried ‘Chris Corbally’, the jesuit from my province who works there, and ‘CTNS’, the Center for Theology and the natural Sciences in Berkeley which shares a long-standing project with the Vatican devoted to the interface of science and religion.
There’s a nice PBS page on the observatory: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week840/feature.html
I heard there was a film of Mariette but I can’t track it down. I guess it came and went. Ron Hansen was at JSTB while I was there but our paths never crossed.
And his gift can be visiting your blog before I pray and being moved. Thanks for sharing that.
Thanks for the PBS link. I’m going to write a query to a magazine (California Wild) about a story on the observatory. I don’t know if they’d be interested but if they are, I’d need to get some info that’s more detailed than what I can find googling. It’s probably beyond my ability but I guess it doesn’t hurt to try … much.
I bought the book after reading an interview with Hansen … I want to see the movie – Rutger Hauer is in it 🙂
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