Most people have dreams of what they would like to do, where they would like to be, and hopes for their future. As you get older, it is easy to settle in to a schedule and a pathway that leads to your dreams coming true. But often times things happen to change the course of our lives. I think it was John Lennon who said, “Life is what happens while we’re making other plans.”
The past few years have been very disappointing for me. There is no need to go into all the details, suffice it to say that the dreams and plans I counted on the most evaporated. It seemed like most of the things I planned on doing and accomplishing just didn’t work out - the foundations crumbled around me.
Late in the Fall of 2006 I went by a large red rose bush almost every day for about 3 months. I couldn’t get over how beautiful the roses were. And I’ve always been fascinated by the rich color, texture, and shape of rose petals. The bush was elevated in a special growing plot in the center of a large concrete floral box. I really wanted to see if I could create a picture of a rose, so I picked one of the roses and took it home and placed it on my desk in a vase filled with water. I used a 3D modeling program to create a flower that resembled my sample rose.
I worked hard on this project, and I still went by the bush every day at work. But one day, we had a big snowstorm. All the roads were closed and we got several feet of snow. I ended up staying home for a few days, because we were hemmed into our driveway.
When I went back to work, the rose bush was covered and weighed down heavily with white snow. I noticed that most of the roses had died. These were dreary days, and I assumed that I wouldn’t see any signs of life until next summer.
But about a week later, another large cluster of roses pushed its way up the middle of the bush, and soon it was protruding above the surrounding dormant bush. I couldn’t believe it - there were about 12 roses in a cluster, seemingly indestructible. I was really amazed at how beautiful of a picture this was - a cluster of red roses that stood against gray skies and snow on the ground, with the remains of a dormant bush surrounding it.
At that time, I was thinking about wars and the destruction of our planet, and the fragility of people caught up in all the struggles of powerful governments. I also ran across a lot of information about nuclear arms and testing that has gone on throughout the years. I really started thinking about the damaging effects nuclear arms testing has had on the entire world. And it seemed to me that the country of Japan has been hardest hit by these tests as well as a philosophy that if anyone fails they don’t deserve to live. If people don’t make it in this materialistic corporate world then they don’t have value. So in the middle of this industrial and corporate battleground, I placed some roses growing in the asphalt and cinders after a refinery is blown up in a war zone.
The petals of the roses were symbolic of the fragility of people and life on our planet - so easily destroyed. And yet after seeing roses come alive after a winter storm I likened this to the power of God that intervenes in the affairs of humans, and gives them the ability to survive even after life’s storms. There are storms that come into our lives that are too big for us to survive alone. This picture of nature overcoming the threats to its existence inspired the essays, the stories, and the music in the Red Rose CD.
At first I wrote essays and poetry about what I had observed, and then I decided to write a fictional story as well by the same title. This story is an allegory involving aliens who have to run from their world and their galaxy because it is being destroyed and they must find a new home. The red rose in this story is beautiful, fragile, and yet indestructible and survives the ruination of an entire galaxy. The story is symbolic of what people go through when they are forced to leave their country, when they go through terrible losses, and when all their dreams just seem to evaporate. And yet God comes to the aid of all who would cry out to Him in the midst of their struggles.
It is important for the reader to understand that all of the things I have written are filled with symbols, allegorical ideas, and comparisons to real life that try to portray and clarify the struggles of humanity, the environment, and the quest to find a God who truly cares. Perhaps even those who do not believe in God will see His hand at work in helping us through the lessons and symbology of a simple red rose.
The links below will take you to various parts of this feature series. I hope that others will be able to see their emotions as in a mirror, and that they will find the way to healing and restoration through God’s power even in the midst of traumatic losses.