White Roses

July 10, 2017

My husband and I recently bought our first house. The previous owners provided detailed instructions about everything in and outside of the house, including the garden that has multiple newly planted white rose bushes. The previous owners included a comment regarding the roses. They heard that rose bushes would bloom more flowers if any yellow, dying flowers were trimmed. These decaying blooms drew energy away from the rest of the plant. After a gorgeous Spring bloom, the flowers began turning yellow and brown. As such, I sought out gardening sheers at our local gardening store. With knowledge and shears in hand, I confidently trimmed all the rose bushes. After the beautiful Spring bloom, our bushes now were one third of their size. I trusted the blooms would return and wondered when.

 

Then, the gardener came a few weekends later.

 

“What happened to the bushes” he asked. 

 

“The flowers were dying so I trimmed them” I replied, adding “obviously” to myself. However, I started to wonder if I had made a mistake. The gardener didn’t say much more about the now tiny bushes. “He’s a talented gardener, doesn’t he know this fact about roses”, I wondered. With many questions in mind, I asked him when the roses might bloom again. 

 

“September” was the reply, which was multiple months away. He didn’t say much more about the bushes, as he trimmed red sprouts growing from them. I asked why he cut these sprouts. His response was simply, “They’re no good”.

 

I silently sighed to myself and offered self-compassion. I’m a first time home owner learning how to garden. Half of the winter I wondered if any of the sticks in our various flower pots would ever grow anything. We bought the house in the fall and had only seen the plants and flowers die. I was, and am, amazed to see the flowers bloom and plants grow once the warmer months arrived. I’m equally impressed with the previous owners detail to choosing various plants that bloom at different times throughout the year. I view every leaf, flower, or orange that enters our backyard a small miracle and wonder of life. 

 

By trimming the dead roses, I thought I’d be bringing new life into our garden. More roses were promised to replace the ones that were drawing away energy and sustenance from the rest of the bush. Regardless of when the flowers would bloom again, the Spring bloom had definitely faded. I made my cuts in good faith and would now have to wait to see what would happen. 

 

Nonetheless, I remained curious about the red sprouts. Why would the gardener trim some and not others? With this question in mind, my next step was obvious. 

 

I consulted Google. 

 

“Red leaves on rose bush” was my entry. “Normal growth” were some responses, but so was “Rose rosette disease”.

 

“WTF?!” 

 

This, among with other choice phrases, was my mental response, as I went to inspect our bushes. Were the red leaves new growth or a disease that would affect all of the bushes? I had no idea. 

 

“Should I trim more, like the gardener,” I wondered during my inspection.

 

How did he know what to cut? Was he right or wrong in his cutting.

 

At the same moment as these thoughts, I noticed one bush appeared to have grown a shoot with the promise of a new bloom at its end. I decided to continue to observe the bushes without further intervention. 

 

Over the next few weeks, I’d found myself inspecting the garden whenever I was outside. More shoots with buds were appearing. Work and everyday life distracted me from the garden until one day I noticed that the bushes were the same size they had been when I trimmed the life-sucking dead roses. More buds than I could remember seeing that Spring now covered each bush. It was summer, perhaps a month, give or take a couple of weeks, since that confident cut and subsequent waiting. More blooms were appearing than had been present in the Spring. 

 

The definitive faithful act of that initial cutting and the subsequent patient observation resulted in the initial suggested promise: more blooms to replace those that needed to be removed. 

Accepting the consequences for our actions, whether good, bad, or otherwise, is the result of taking action. Nonetheless, knowing when enough action is enough may be unclear. Lack of action is also a choice and leads to its own consequences, which can include decay, a halt in growth, or a necessary pause for nature to care of itself. More trimming than necessary could also prevent growth. Waiting and observing in life is not easy, but it certainly serves a purpose.

 

With so many unknowns and questions, how do we decide what to do with each decision?

 

Life is uncertainty. We do the best that we can with the knowledge provided to us. Even when we search for greater understanding, we may be left with many questions and unknowns. 

 

However, there is a peace that is present when we go forward with good intentions, acting in a manner to bring about the best while still being unsure of the results. This peace is in alignment with our inner wisdom. We have a choice in what advice we follow. We have a choice in when and how we act. What circumstances in your life are presenting the choice of action or observation?

 

This true story can serve as a metaphor for life to various degrees and contains many potential lessons. What analogies do you see that pertain to your life? What are the objects that can be trimmed with the hope or promise of new life, a more abundant and beautiful life? Where can you take pause and observe after a big, fateful decision?

 

Regardless of the outcome, every choice is an opportunity for learning and feedback.

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