Sometimes, not very often, but just every once in a while everything seems to come together and suddenly it’s all wrapped up with nothing out of place even though something is missing. That’s what happened last Sunday morning at Old Sturbridge Village. On the village common, in the front of the Parsonage dooryard on the right there is a rose. This rose was selected for dedication to my sister who was a long time and beloved employee of the Village and who died one year ago today. The garden in the parsonage dooryard was selected because it was my sister’s favorite. To be accurate it was the kitchen garden that she loved best but who wants celery as a dedication. The rose is perennial and overlooks the kitchen garden. It is a Belladonna rose and it translates to beautiful woman. That is a good start.
A monthly onlinevillage publication called ‘A Glimpse Into The Garden’ did a September piece on the rose. The rose is beautiful (check), it is useful (check) and almost universally recognized as extraordinary (check). It is also fragrant. One part of the article quotes Jonas Thatcher from the ‘New American Dispensary’ of 1810 as regards its aroma: “It is doubtless the most elegant perfume in vegetable nature; as a single drop imparts its fragrance throughout the room or dwelling, and suppresses other less agreeable odours.” (check). Apparently, back when that particular rose was first decided upon, it was not very healthy. There were some consultations with expert gardeners. It had been there for 30 years but perhaps the plant should be discarded so that a replacement could be brought in. Then one horticulturist found a single vigorous stalk and that was enough to give it a chance. Root pruning, feeding, whatever other magic gardeners do and the rose now thrives. So on Sunday morning we heard that story. And then we heard fellow employees reminisce and marvel at how often and severely the ravages of cancer and the rigors of chemo would cause my sister to stagger and fade and how almost equally often she would later re-appear with fresh vigor, renewed zeal and never one complaint. We have all stifled trivial complaints because of her gentle, iron perseverance.
And I thought then that the best of the rose’s fragrance isn’t released until the petals are crushed; then the room is filled, the less agreeable fades, and elegance enters in from one life to another. And I also thought how seldom it is that external things accurately portray the depth of the life within: A withered brown stick and a ravaged cancer victim. The brown stick is now tall and green and I have no doubt that it will bloom in early June. The folks who chose that rose to commemorate my sister have perhaps chosen better than they knew because, in the face of what appears as mortality, there is often life. On September18, 2012 Rebecca Robinson’s condition suddenly and dramatically improved. She is even now alive in the presence of her God and when this long winter is over, when the Savior calls her name, she will bloom again.
Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” ~ from John chapter 11