I have always loved flowers. When I was growing up on the family farm in rural Vermont, every spring I would explore the woodlands on our farm, looking for the first wild flowers of spring. My mom had flower beds planted around the house yielding a variety of blooms throughout the summer months. When one of her friends had a birthday, she and I would walk into the woodlands to look for trailing arbutus, a vine with small flowers, that Mom would plant in her homemade terrariums as her gift.

Mom had several rose bushes at home but I never liked to go near them because of their many thorns. One day Mom was gifted with a real rose inside a glass bowl filled to the top with water and sealed. The rose floated regally in the watery womb in the bowl staying fresh for days. It was a whole new way of looking at a rose, a memorable epiphany!

Since joining the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals, I have learned that there are many different ways to look at a rose, or anything else. The ordinary man sees a pretty flower, or perhaps he only sees the thorns that prick his fingers when he tries to pick the flower. A poet rhapsodizes on the beauty of the red, red rose comparing it to his burning love for his sweetheart. Bouquets of roses and flowers are given as signs of love, of friendship, of honor, and of thanks for a job well done.

Commercially, the rose has developed a love language of its own; a rosebud means something different than the fully blossomed rose especially between boyfriend and girlfriend! The number of roses and their colors also reveal the shades and nuances of one’s love for another. The rose scent has become a favorite ingredient of perfumes, lotions and even shampoos.

But what happens when we look beyond the rose? What do we see? The red rose may remind us of His Sacred Heart, the thorns, of His Crown. Its glowing beauty amidst the thorns hints to us of the glory of heaven bursting through our sufferings and worldly concerns. As a Christian, we look beyond the flower and see Christ in action!

What is the meaning of our daily work routines, our struggles to become better Christians, our growing pains, illnesses, our experiences of great joy and happiness? What if we experience a Mt. Pinatubo in our life, covering all we have so far accomplished, our every achievement, with obliterating ash and mud? What will remain when all these material and necessary things of the world have been blotted off the landscape of our life? Or, how about being inundated with the raging flood waters spawned by Ondoy?

Certainly I do not understand some events in my personal life anymore than I understand how a rose petal is able to retain its deep color and velvety softness despite rain and wind. Many happenings I can understand only ‘after-the-fact’ and with much prayer and seeking the Lord’s will. I have to “look beyond” what actually happens; I have to learn how to see Christ in action in what happens. I must remember God’s promise in Romans 8:28.

God did not promise us a rose garden. He did promise us, though, that he would be with us in all circumstances and situations. I have found that the more I am able to “look beyond” and see Christ in action, the more clearly I see God’s will for me.

There is a short verse by Clay Harrison that aptly rephrases the old proverb that says ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ into the better version that the beauty of life is in the eye that looks beyond. His poem goes like this:

We sometimes miss a blessing that’s right before our eyes
Preoccupied by earthly things which make us “worldly wise.”
We fail to see beyond ourselves, hearts that we have broken,
And we forget the angry words that we in haste have spoken.

We fill our lives with selfish things forgetting those in need,
And miss the joy that sharing brings in our effort to succeed.
How blessed we are when we believe, and praise God with our lips,
For when we reach beyond ourselves – we touch His fingertips!

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