Every day on my walk home, I pass this rose bush and sign. The roses have started to die out in our surprise British heat wave, but the sign remains. It’s a funny sign, especially considering the neighbourhood it’s in.
I live in what’s considered one of the most deprived areas in the UK. Our neighbours and friends often struggle with addiction, evictions, and the finances to simply feed their children. Their pasts, and even present, might include things like heroin use, poverty, homelessness and prostitution. And yet, here is a sign asking them not to pick the roses.
The simple fact that there is such a sign points to a significant amount of people picking said roses. But why? In a world of chaos and desperation, why would those in such need do something like pick flowers? The naysayers and negative nellies in the group would probably say it’s just kids being gobby, but I think otherwise.
I think it’s because they still value beauty. Because they are drawn to the simple pleasure of smelling a flower. Because in ways they probably don’t even realise they long to hold something pure and simple and delicate.
We all love beautiful things. Personally, l love nice, clean kitchens and beautifully designed cakes. Some of us love fashion or classical music. We visit things like the Grand Canyon or white sand beaches. We throw our money at pretty dresses or crisp magazine pages. We value beauty in all its various forms, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Actually, I’d say it’s a Jesus thing.
Because I think of my many friends that are in various states of chaos and overcoming- the ones who struggle to stay clean and the ones who have been sober for nearly a decade. The women who have been brutally abused and the ones who still are. The mums and dads walking past my window exhausted because they pulled a double shift last night but still made it home in time to walk their kids to school and the kids who are running around the park on their own because their parents are just trying to get by. And I see how they all appreciate the small pleasures in life. I see the smiles when a kid says something inappropriate, the sigh after the first sip of a coffee. I overhear the ‘I love yous’ on the phone and the humming softly to themselves. I catch them staring in awe around our kitchen table or laugh when I ask if they want seconds.
I think of all of them and I know that they need beauty. Because beauty is pointing them to the Beautiful One. “Out of Zion, perfection in beauty, God shines forth (Psalm 50:2).” Jesus shines in the beautiful things He made. He creates each one of us, each wave in the sea, each cloud in the sky, and yes, every rose in a street-side rose bush, displaying His beauty and His perfection in each one. So it’s no wonder that we long to pick a rose!
And while, I certainly won’t go against the sign poster’s request, and I won’t encourage anyone else to do so either, I will keep pausing at this rose bush and appreciating His beauty even in the chaos.