I wondered whether the dozen cut yellow roses, which were just barely opening when they arrived at my office last Thursday morning, would make it to full bloom. I know they usually do, but at least one such bouquet did not. Throughout the day, I gazed at them and tried to assess whether more of the vibrant yellow petals were visible. By time I left the office for the day, I had my doubts. The next morning, little had changed. But by the end of Friday, when I dumped out most of the water so I could drive the bouquet home without making a mess in my car, the blossoming was obvious, and it continued Saturday and Sunday. I wish I had taken a picture when they arrived, and another Friday morning, to compare with the full blooms that brought sunshine to my home on the weekend.
Since the start of Lent on Feb. 17, I've written a fair amount about giving up and not giving up. The blooming of the roses was another reminder not to give up. Instead, I could enjoy the beauty of the rosebuds and the greenery surrounding them and then delight in the ever-increasing bursts of silky sunshine color and delicate sweet scent.
Things I've read have made similar impressions. Among them was this from a dear young relative. She said it made quite an impression on her, and it did on me, too: If love is the soul of Christian existence, it must be at the heart of every other Christian virtue. ... Justice without love is legalism; faith without love is ideology; hope without love is self-centeredness; forgiveness without love is self-abasement; fortitude without love is recklessness; generosity without love is extravagance; care without love is mere duty; fidelity without love is servitude. Every virtue is an expression of love. No virtue is really a virtue unless it is permeated, or informed, by love.
And there was this, on a beautiful card, a Scripture quoted from the Message: "But let me run loose and free, celebrating God's great work, Every bone in my body laughing, singing, 'God, there's no one like you.'" Psalm 35:9-10
There were many other treasured words, including conversations and e-mail chats.
And I may need them as the week continues. Situations loom that could easily cause me to lose my focus, to become jealous or resentful. I want to be humble, but I don't want to be taken advantage of. It's hard to find balance sometimes, and one of those times may be near. It may sound like I'm worrying about something that may not even happen, but I see it is just paying attention and being prepared, trying to avoid being caught off guard.
Just in case, I'll continue to stock up on treasured words and moments, and never give up on God's love.