Home » Blog » Written Word » Poetry & Lyrics » The Relentless Gardener and the Grimmest Rose

The Relentless Gardener and the Grimmest Rose

The Relentless Gardener and the Rose : A Poetic Meditation

Black withered rose

In a garden of beautiful flowers, in amongst the colour and the life there stands a single rose, it’s petals black and withered, bare, with a stem full of barbaric thorns. All around this poisoned plant, flowers bloom, butterflies and bees buzz and flutter, but they all avoid the wretched rose. Even when the sun shines bright and all the flowers round about glow and shimmer, there is a little cloud of gloom where the rose sits, untouched, unloved. And in the night time, it seems this rose stands out in the moonlight, in a kind of mournful isolation. Day and night come and go, winter and summer, autumn and winter, and still, untouched, the rose stands.

In the night, in the stillness, you can hear a whispered conversation, and who knows who asks the questions and who answers, because whether it is the rose or the flowers, or the night breezes, the questions are the same: ‘Why do I have thorns and they have leaves?’ ‘Why does no-one love me?’ ‘Why can’t I be well?’ ‘Why are you like this?’ ‘Why are you frozen in time?’ ‘Why don’t you have beauty?’ ‘What’s wrong with you?’ ‘What’s wrong with you?’

And the answer comes, out of the air ‘I have thorns, because they are leaves like yours, but thwarted and denied, turned in on themselves, hardened, opportunities for life turned to repellent points of death’.
And the question hovers: ‘What is this thorn; what is that thorn?’ and back comes the answer : ‘This is where he would not listen, when I said no, and then another came and did the same, and another’. ‘This is where one I loved knew my pain and did not respond’ ‘Here is where I loved in vain, and he never seemed to notice, though I thought he did’. ‘Here is where my sister betrayed me’. ‘Here is where I feel toyed with by the one I desired, and each time I thought God was in his coming, and each time my hopes were shattered’. ‘Here is where I was sure God meant me for him and him for me, but surely he rebelled and walked away, and here am I, who obeyed, with my heart broken and forlorn, bearing the pain – where even if what I have dreamed for, hope against hope, was given to me, I fear I would turn it down, fearing another crushing blow, and would walk away with the anguish of killing my own dying heart, wondering what I’d done to myself’.

And the question comes ‘O beautiful rose, why do you not bloom, but wither in a blossom of gloom and ghostly moonlit isolation?’. Night after night the answer forms ‘Because my roots drink up the rejection and indifference of my father, and poison and reverse all I was meant to be; no wonder love does not dwell in my house’.

And still, all these answers brought no change, no comfort, still the rose bloomed in isolation, in a gloomy glimmering of the empty beauty of what could be but is not.

But then, one night, in the gloom, the gardener came, and stood before the rose, and he saw, and he loved the rose. But nothing changed. The next night he came again, and he looked at the rose with longing, and a tear fell from his eyes and watered the ground. Night after night he came, kneeling down, bending down, first pricking his finger on a thorn, tasting the pain and the blood, then slowly embracing the rose stem with his hand, so that the thorn drove fully into his palm, his face grimacing with the pain. And then he moves his hand up, the thorn tearing at his flesh until the thorn is stripped from the rose, and lies embedded in his bloodied hand. Night after night he comes, each night taking another thorn in his palms, working from bottom to top, each night leaving more blood, crying more tears for the pain. Still the rose blooms not, stands in isolation, stripped bare even of its thorns, defenceless and vulnerable, with just a dry, withered, blackened blighted bud where its bloom should be. For the longest time, nothing happened, but then the gardener came back in the twilight gloom. His bloodied palms no longer held the thorns – instead he bore them on his pierced fingers, woven into a crown. He stands over the rose, leans over and presses the thorny crown into his head, crying out for the pain, and the blood and the tears mingle together as they fall on the rose, on the withered flower, soaking into the blackened bud, running down the naked stem, watering the ground. Night after night, he comes and just stands, letting the blood and the tears fall. Still, everyday nothing seems to have changed – only the blackened bud is no longer dry – yet it still does not bloom to beauty. The bees and the butterflies still avoid it.

Then the Gardener comes, one last time, to stay. The thorns in his head have melted in his blood and have unfurled into leaves, and one by one he uproots them from his head, and with still-bloodied hands he grafts them onto the scars where the thorns had been, on each scar and leaf stem lingering so the blood could soften the tissue to life. Into the darkness of midnight he works, and in the moonlight, with still bleeding hands he begins to coax, to tease out, to stroke each deformed, stunted petal until it unfurls, and as he teases out each black petal, the outer first, then the inner, the blood flows and penetrates every part red until, as the dawn light reaches in and touches the garden, it finds in the very centre of the garden a magnificent, beloved, blood red rose of love, its very roots of rejection transformed by the nightly fertilizing of self-sacrificial blood love, and the relentless gardener stays by His rose and he smiles and loves his beautiful, beautiful, beloved rose.

You are that rose

You are His beautiful, beloved rose.