May 03, 2012

Lesson 7: Roses and Thorns

      You know the old saying “every rose has its thorn.” Well, turns out its true. In fact, every rose on the gigantic rose bush in my front yard has many, many thorns. I know because I just spent the last hour “dead heading” it and ended up with minute prickers all over my body. Dead heading is a new term for me having nothing to do with people who follow around the Grateful Dead (bad joke, sorry). It's actually pretty self-explanatory. It means, cutting off the dead flower heads on a bush. The goal is that by doing so, the plant will actually bloom again and again and again.

      This particular rose bush was inherited when we moved into this house nine months ago, but it is so absolutely beautiful and smells so deliciously good that it really is a source of pride for me. Until today, I personally have not actually done a thing to maintain it (Mark cut it way back last fall), but as its the biggest and most colorful thing you see when you pull around the bend to our house, I feel as if it sends a message to guests about the beauty and good smells (?) that lie within. Thankfully, it's planted directly next to the place we keep our trashcan, aka outdoor diaper pail. I digress.

       Today the rose bush came to my attention because we are hosting a graduation party for some of our seminary friends in two weeks, and as the showpiece of our yard, it is essential that the rose bush is on the top of its game. The party is going to be awesome … yard games including frisbee golf, cornhole, volleyball, kickball, croquet, bocce, you name it, we've got it! Late night is going to include a sweet fire pit with s'mores and perhaps a dance party under our Christmas light lit carport! And for food, what else but a giant smoked pig, southern style! No less important, the party is marking a really important milestone in our friends' lives. We are celebrating the completion of years of hard work and sacrifice. Their graduation from seminary puts them one step closer to being ordained as ministers of the gospel. Awesome.

      And yet, as the saying goes, even this rose has its thorn. See, when you graduate from high school, you and your friends cry a ton, write really emotional messages in each others' yearbooks, and promise to visit during college. My friends and I even recorded a video with a short segment of everyone doing their best talent … on VHS. You think to yourself, I will never make friends like these again. 

     Then you get to college and realize, it is possible and even more so, because now you get to live with your friends and that in itself means there is a party every night of the week. So fun, but alas, college cannot last forever and eventually, that too ends, bringing separation from more friends and the definite conclusion that you will never make friends like these again. And this is true, for most people. People end up living where they get a job, and are lucky to have a few good friends close by to make the awkward transition discussed in my first blog post bearable. People then get married, have babies, and life phases continually move various people in and out.

      Ya'll … but here's the thing, if you go to graduate school, especially a small seminary like the one we do, you can make that group of friends again! Only this time, you are married. My friend loves to describe seminary by saying it's like college, only better because you get to live with your boyfriend! It also has a different dynamic because everyone there is pursing a goal similar to your own. It is a breeding ground for sweet friendships (and babies, but that's a different story). 

     About a year ago I found myself thinking about the girls I had met at school and thinking, “wow, I'm really glad my friend Jenni married such a nice boy.” “It sure is good my friend Rachel has such a sweet husband. He really is good enough for her.” What's funny about this is that these girls were already married when I met them. Their husbands had the prior claim to them, not me. I had actually gotten to a point where I had forgotten that I haven't actually known them my whole life. Still, it is always nice when you like your friends' husbands.

      Back to the rose / thorn thing. Though this party marks an great accomplishment, it also means we will be saying good-bye to some of our really good friends. We are proud of them and super excited for what the future holds for each of them, but honestly, it would be way more fun if that future could be located in the same city that our future is located in. It's probably not going to happen.

      There's a line from a song that always comes to mind at times like these, times of reflection over a specific period of time. “Lately it occurs to me: What a long strange trip its been.”

      I don't plan on drawing conclusions right now. Conclusions are for when you've gotten to the end of the matter, but seeing as the next two weeks bring paper deadlines and finals, the end is not yet here and thus, I don't need to conclude. Rather, I need to continue to ready our house for the party and continue to process the way this newest end will bring about new change … roses and thorns.

      Guesses on who sings the song?

Lesson Learned: Gloves are not a bad idea when pruning rose bushes.

New note: Hi. For some reason, this post continues to generate a fair amount of weekly traffic even though it is very old. I'm curious about how you ended up here. Why did you decide to read this post? Leave a little comment if you wouldn't mind!
Thanks! (Aug. 16, 2012)


  1. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

    9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.

    I guess if everyone stayed in the same place the purpose of being together could not be realized ....

    1. Oh Ruth, wise as always. I miss you.


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