By Heidi Hess Saxton
About six weeks ago I lost my job due to “reductions in force” – a fancy expression that could not entirely eliminate the sting of the fact that my family’s income had been cut in half. As it happened, this life-altering event happened on Election Day, and the combined effects of the election results and my job loss was hard for my dear husband to take. On and on he lamented of the unfairness and harshness of it all, until I couldn’t bear another word. At that moment, a marriage-saving catch phrase was born: white roses.
White roses have always been my very favorite flower. To me they symbolize a kind of pure and perfect beauty, unspoiled and untouched. And Craig, smart man that he is, showers them on me at regular intervals — birthdays, anniversaries, and sometimes (the best times) just because he loves me.
At this stage in our marriage, the beloved blooms had a whole new meaning. “I know things look pretty bleak, Sweetheart,” I hugged him. “But white roses will be here again in no time.” And from that moment on, whenever we find ourselves dwelling upon the uncertainty and scariness of our future, I catch his eye and we remind each other, “White roses.”
Today is the feast day of Saint John of the Cross, the great Spanish mystic and beloved friend of Saint Teresa of Avila, who admonished her daughters to “Let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you. All things pass away, but God never changes. Patience obtains all, and those who possess God want for nothing. God alone suffices.”
In good times and bad, we can take this advice to heart — knowing that when life surprises us, God remains in control. As we read in the first reading today:
I am the LORD, there is no other; I form the light, and create the darkness…
Let justice descend, O heavens, like dew from above, like gentle rain let the skies drop it down.
Let the earth open and salvation bud forth; let justice also spring up!
I, the LORD, have created this. (Isaiah 45: 6-8).
We are now well into our reading of Advent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Last Sunday was Rose Sunday, when we take a break from the penitential season and give thanks for the goodness of the Lord, and for the blessing of his coming. Today’s reading brings us to the bedside of my mother in her memory care facility, where for a brief time the veil is lifted and she recalls the blessings of the past. And so it is for each of us today: We are given a moment to dwell upon the “white roses” of our lives, of blessed memories and uncommon gifts the God of Light showers upon us.
Thank you, dear Father, for the blessings of love and light that you shower upon us each day. May your sweetness compel us to open our hands and hearts to you, and to draw you into the innermost depths of our hearts, where your Spirit longs to dwell. Come, Lord Jesus, come!