December 24, 2012

When roses bloom in winter {a re-post}

I've been struggling with words these days ... can't find words to fill this space. They just don't come readily like before and I'm trying to be patient. I wanted desperately to write, here, after last week and all that happened in Connecticut. But I had to write it all down for myself, in ink and on my own paper pages instead. Those words will likely stay there. Because last week was all too close for any of us- and I had to do some private dealing, just me and my Jesus.

But the events marked me and they marked all of us. And those dear little faces on the cover of People magazine mingled and messed with my Christmas joy. I can't shake the thoughts of their mamas. I have struggled to stay out of the emotional weeds. Still, Christmas is here and I believe in the Incarnation now more than ever ... this God who became flesh, born to save us all from everything we can't bear.

Below is a re-post from one year ago and, oddly enough, I think it works for today.
Have a truly blessed Christmas, friends. I hope to be back soon.

I nearly complain when I walk out the front door a few mornings ago.

This weather is so very bizarre and it is difficult to feel Christmas-y when the temperature hovers at 65. I suppose I don't really mind. How can I mind bike riding without coats and street play as if it were spring? I know the cold will come soon enough-- it always does. Somewhere, right now, there is a chill in the air and it will move this way in time, follow those black birds that descend in flocks and tell of colder days to come.

I see it that morning, out of the corner of my eye ... that thorny vine that is wily and misshapen. I don't know how to trim a rose bush and so it just does it's own crazy thing. It is mid-December and for months it has been nothing but a brown, thorny eyesore. I would have snipped it away long ago if I had known where to find the sheers.

But this week it is blooming roses.

Red and pink ones and I find it mysterious. I snap a picture. The next morning I read over here about how Christmas can be hard and all "upside down." The women respond candid and brave. I cry as I read ... pray for women I don't even know, women who will be alone or sad or stretched this Christmas. And who hasn't known pain? Aching loss?

I read and Christmas feels a bit more sacred, more necessary. It is about more than peace and waiting and anticipating. It is about deep need.

Need for light when the lights seem to be out ... or are just beginning to flicker. Need for hope that answers the ache. Hope that dispels the dark.

Because there are people who are hurting at Christmas.

And I think on another mama that I do know. It is ten months now, home without her girl. This will be her first Christmas with an empty chair and she posts on Facebook, tells of the memories that keep taking her breath away. At the funeral last year, they said their goodbyes amidst a sea of pink flowers and pink balloons for a girl who was just six. Her and that sweet aroma of pink ... mingling and lightening the air.

Dispelling the heaviness of a goodbye.

Her mama weighs heavy on my mind.

A few short hours from here another family keeps vigil, with thousands of others who have come alongside. And a dear friend's friend is dying. He won't likely make it to Christmas and his beautiful, strong wife informed the masses late last night, bid friends to come. Come now.

Come say goodbye at Christmas.

I watch a community plea for prayer and I pray too. I have tried so hard to make this season about the waiting and the knowing that He is coming, the anticipation of this arrival. God with us. It has been peaceful around here, just as I had hoped but I wonder if, in my pursuit to flee the Christmas Craze, have I missed something?

Have I forgotten that He is hope and light, the One who causes light to shine in dark places.
And  didn't He come in the middle of the night?

And the weather has been strange and Christmas is coming in with the cold. I am thinking of mothers, lovers, and a little girl who will kiss her dad goodbye on Christmas. 

Today we walk through Trader Joe's and the aisles are filled with shoppers buying gingerbread coffee and cinnamon cheese. We pick up peppermint taffy and I see them there to the right. In a sea of red and green poinsettias ... a small tin of pink roses. My heart speeds up and I tell my girl to look. Look! And we know who they are for. We know where we have to go next.

Later we leave roses on a doorstep, come home to taffy, and dad is off work early. He plays Christmas music and dances with his girls in the kitchen. I can't catch my breath and I mark the moment in my memory before I step out of the room. Thankful. Heavy.

Because I am still thinking of roses and I need to get away for just a minute. I shuffle through more Christmas music, favorites that mark the season, and I hear it-- this old hymn.

I have never listened well to these words but my ears are tuned today. A flower bright .... when half spent was the night. A savior  foretold, to show God's love. A babe, whose sweetness so filled the air that kings and shepherds came to see. Dispelling darkness everywhere and lightening every load.

It is the eve of Christmas Eve and I am thinking on a rose. I am waiting for a light that shines in the dark ... for a hope that enters gladly into the night.

Come, Lord Jesus.


Lo, how a Rose e'er blooming from tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse's lineage coming, as men of old have sung.
It came, a floweret bright, amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.

Isaiah 'twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind;
Mary we behold it, the Virgin Mother kind.
To show God's love aright, she bore to us a Savior,
When half spent was the night.

The shepherds heard the story proclaimed by angels bright,
How Christ, the Lord of glory was born on earth this night.
To Bethlehem they sped and in the manger they found Him,
As angel heralds said.

This Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere;
True man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load.


  1. Thank you for this. My heart is in just the same place this season. Glad to ponder this hymn that I haven't considered so much before. And so glad God placed those roses in your path...and gave you eyes to see. He is Good. Alleluia!

  2. I found this googling winter blooming roses... my brother died almost 7 weeks ago, in the middle of September, and the roses have been crazy ever since. I found on today.... it's been in the 20s and 30s here, no way these roses should bloom. Never been fertilized, trimmed, or even watered. I can't figure it out, and it must be a sign.

  3. Oh hello, RS! So happy to meet you here. Realizing as I read your comment and as I think about those roses blooming. So much is pure mystery ... How you would stumble here nearly a year later and how those flowers open in the cold. I am thinking of you in your loss and how you still have eyes to find beauty in the unlikely season. How you are seeking answers. Peace to you, today. He is mystery and I don't understand how He works. But I know He makes all things beautiful in their own time ... you, me, and the roses too.