The Rose

angel

When I die, I will send down a shower of roses from the heavens, I will spend my heaven by doing good on earth.” –Saint Therese de Lisieux

My mind and heart were in turmoil.

I had just sent my husband off on a plane for the fifth time in three months, to his dying father’s bedside 1,200 miles away. It was a week until our daughter’s wedding. I was leaving the next day with a carload of supplies for a 400-mile trek in the opposite direction. My niece and her friend were arriving in a matter of hours for a weekend wedding in our town. My husband was supposed to be here to help with their visit and take over when I left the next day. His car was also filled with wedding supplies. Two cars, two guests, two family members that needed our presence on opposite ends of the coastline and now I not only had my wedding responsibilities but also those of my husband.

I did not have time for Mass that day. But I had no peace, and I did not know where to go, so I went to church. I was on my way when almost of its own accord, my car changed direction and went to a different parish where I sometimes attend daily Mass.

I cannot tell you what the readings were that day, or what the homily was about, or even if there was a homily. I can tell you what my thoughts were: Jesus, give me peace. Lord give me peace, God grant me peace. Over and over again my thoughts repeated these words like a mantra. I went through the motions, kneeling, sitting, praying, wishing others, “Peace be with you.” But still, there was no peace.

Soon it was time for Communion. “The Body of Christ.” “Amen.” God grant me peace. “The Blood of Christ.” “Amen.” Lord give me peace. I returned to my pew.

A Rose- A Hug from God

I started when I saw it, caught my breath and then sat down as the tears began to fall. At my seat, on my wallet, someone had placed a delicate, perfect, white rose. An angel no doubt. Like a hug from God—a message—I love you. It will be alright. Be at peace.

And the “peace which surpasses all understanding” filled my heart. I took that beautiful rose home and put it in a tiny, crystal vase in front of my statue of Mary at my kitchen sink. A simple gift. A little flower. A fountain of peace and love. All through that day and the next, that flower was a message of God’s love for me.

I took the rose in its vase to my downstairs neighbor before I left the next day. Why not pass on this gift, when tomorrow my niece would leave with the second car and the apartment would be closed for a week? My neighbor had not been feeling well and was touched by the gesture. When I told her the story about the angel who sent it me, her eyes shone with tears.  

I would like to tell you the peace of the rose lasted, and I was anxiety-free as the wedding approached. My husband flew in hours before the wedding—his father still in hospice—the future still uncertain. A week of trying to hold everything together myself often found me cracking under the strain. I crumpled many times in the ensuing days, losing my patience, speaking harsh words when a gentle response would have sufficed.

The Wedding

But the wedding was beautiful and the ceremony sublime—the weather was perfect—praise God! We returned home, and I attended daily Mass one day at the same church with where I had received the rose. I returned to my pew after Communion, and once again, a small, pink rose lay on my wallet. I looked around and noticed two others with a rose.

As I left the church, a woman stopped me. “You must be new,” she said as she pointed to the rose. I admitted that I was not a parishioner here, but visited at times for the daily Mass. I told her about the white rose. “That’s Imelda,” she said, gesturing towards a woman who was speaking with a small group in the vestibule. “She looks for new people and gives them roses.”

I waited until Imelda was free and approached her. I told her how her rose had touched my heart on such a difficult day and bought joy to both me and my neighbor. I expressed my gratitude and thankfulness for this lovely ministry that had touched my heart. She blessed me, held my hands and prayed with me.

I went home with my rose, thanking God for angels named Imelda and little flowers and small things done with great love.

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