The rosebush featured in this post, originally published in May of 2017, has struggled through the extremes of heat and sudden chills this month. But I have faith she will make a strong comeback. You can also find this essay on Positively Positive as “Healing Is a Journey, Not an Event.”
This rose, a hybrid cataloged as “Love and Peace,” was not always bold and colorful. When I stepped outside to water my garden one morning, the entire plant had been sliced across the top. Every branch was the same height, every cut clean and precise.
When I found leaves stripped from several stems, I knew the deer had abandoned my azaleas and dined on the rosebush instead.
After moving my potted rose inside a fence where no deer can tread, I watched how she healed. Nature transformed that uninvited pruning session into a gift of new growth, doubling the plant’s branches and blooms.
“A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” (John Shedd)
A plant can thrive inside a fence, but human life is trickier, a series of decisions about which walls to build, which to maintain and which to tear down. The temptation to wall out danger and loss has a backlash: Every attempt to shut out pain also blocks some of our light and joy.
Healing is a journey, not an event.
After losing someone or something dear to us, we grieve as deeply as we love. When fences help us heal, we call those walls our “boundaries.” We may need grief’s heat and darkness to cocoon us as we grow all the wings and things we cannot use inside the safety of our shells, until – at a time we can recognize but not predict – our world will open again if we let it.
We will not be the same, but we’re not meant to be.
Whether physical or invisible, scars represent our most personal stories about who we’ve loved, what we’ve lost and whatever we’ve lived through. The Japanese art of “kintsugi” repairs broken bowls by filling each crack with lacquer dusted in gold. Our scars are also worth honoring as they trace how fully we have lived and loved.
We are not damaged. We are different, but we are also whole.
Grief is a bittersweet paradox, a path we walk alone even when surrounded by friends and family. But love, longing and loss are universal experiences, and that makes them holy. May we find healing in kindness to ourselves and others. May we see our own beauty with fresh eyes, and may faith remind us Love and Peace can bloom again.