Lascia la spina, cogli la rosa

On Saturday, a boat capsized on Lake Victoria and with it a number of young revellers. The media focus on the contrast between Saturday morning and Sunday morning for the 30 ,whose bodies were retrieved by divers, has been disheartening. It was disenchanting to watch body after body towed to shore. Tragic. So young, too soon. Only 26 alive and accounted for, out of over 100 young Ugandans.

Grief is a painful emotion, our red flag when our soul is wounded. Thorns are tiny and their pricks cause angst first to the limb and then to the entire body. Finger pricks are easily treated, we have first aid, we have plaster, we have emergency rooms, we have medics. Salt, we have salt! How does one treat wounds to the soul? How do you know that you are healing and that grief is abating? Sometimes grief tags along with us, slowly seeping into every thing we touch like Midas’ touch or like Elsa’s frost, we recognize it after everything freezes.

Christmas season is my favorite season to binge on my favorite composers. So many concerts, so little time. George Friedric Handel’s music is always a delight to listen to because mostly it is largo. How he brilliantly puts Isaiah’s prophecies to song especially The Young Messiah. This year, I find myself drawn to an aria, (as sang by Cecilia Bartoli), and it is from this aria that my title is drawn. The phrase, translated as leave the thorn, take the rose was written by Cardinal Benedectto Pamphilli in 1707 and put to music by George Handel in his last oratorio Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno (The Triumph of Time and Disillusion).

A rose is a beautiful flower with such soft petals, a sweet fragrance and brilliant colours. But it also has thorns. No one picks a rose because of its thorns, neither does one place it in a vase and admire its thorns. A rose does have thorns though. Life has thorns, leave them. Take the rose.

The Shulamite in Songs of Solomon describes herself as the rose of Sharon.

I am truly his rose, the very theme of his song. I’m overshadowed by his love, growing in the valley!
Song of Songs 2:1 TPT

The Passion Translation describes her as the embodiment of her lovers affection. She is the theme of his song, St.Paul describes this as poema in his letter to the Ephesians . We are, each one of us, God’s poem. His handiwork. A handiwork made for good work. Take the Rose.

God is Love.

Each one of us is a work of love, David says that God knit us together in our mother’s womb. Knitting is a labour of love, it takes time and the finished product is warm and cuddly. Take the Rose.

His love overshadows us. Even in the valley, we grow. Sharon is a very swampy plain, roses would not grow well in this place. David writes about a journey through the valley of the shadow of death. God’s love overshadows us in the valley, in swampy and wrong places. We grow. We bloom, we flourish even in the valley.

Leave the thorn, take the Rose.