The World’s Most Beautiful Rose

“There once was a mighty queen in whose garden grew the most beautiful flowers. Every season there were some in bloom, and they had been collected in all the countries of the world. But roses she loved above all flowers, and in her garden there were many kinds, from the wild hedge rose with green leaves that smell like apples to the loveliest rose of Provence. Roses grew up the walls of the castle, twined themselves around the marble columns, and even entered the halls and corridors of the castle, where their ramblers crept across the ceilings and filled the rooms with the fragrance of their flowers.

But inside the castle sorrow lived, for the queen was dying. The wisest of all the doctors who were attending her said, ‘There is only one remedy that can save her. Bring her the world’s most beautiful rose, the one that symbolizes the highest and purest love, and when her eyes see that flower, then she will not die.’

The young and the old brought their roses–the most beautiful ones that grew in their gardens–but it was not such a flower that could cure the queen. From love’s garden the rose must be brought, but which flower would be the symbol of the highest and purest love? The poets sang of the world’s most beautiful rose, and each mentioned a different one. Word was sent to all, regardless of rank and class, whose hearts did best for love.

‘No one has as yet mentioned the right flower,’ said the wise man. ‘No one has pointed to that place where it grows, in all its glory and beauty. It is not the rose from Romeo’s and Juliet’s tomb or Valborg’s grave, though those roses will always bloom and shed their fragrance in stories and poetry. Nor is it the rose that blooms on Winkelried’s blood-covered lance. From the hero’s blood, shed in defense of his native land, the reddest rose springs; and it is said that such a death is sweet, but it is not the most beautiful rose in the world. The magical wonderful rose, which can only be grown under constant care, through days and years of sleepless nights: the rose of science, it is not either.’

‘I know where it blooms,’ exclaimed a happy mother who, carrying her babe, had entered the queen’s bedchamber. ‘I know where the world’s most beautiful rose is to be found, the rose of highest and purest love. It blooms on the cheeks of my child, when he wakes from his sleep and laughs up at me, with all his love.’

‘Yes, in truth, that rose is lovely, but there are those even more beautiful,’ said the wise man.

‘Yes, far more beautiful,’ said one of the ladies in waiting. ‘I have seen it, and a more exalted, sacred rose than that does not exist. It is as pale as the petals of a tea rose and I have seen it on our queen’s cheeks when, without her golden crown, she walked, carrying her sick child in her arms, back and forth across the room one whole long night. She kissed her babe and prayed to God as only a mother prays in her agony.’

‘Yes, wonderful and holy is the white rose of sorrow, but that is not the one.’

‘No, the world’s most beautiful rose I saw before the altar of Our Lord,’ a pious old priest said. ‘I saw it shine on an angel’s face. Among a group of young girls who had come to take communion, there was one who looked with such simple and innocent love up toward her God that on her face bloomed the rose of highest and purest love.’

‘Blessed is that rose too,’ said the wise man. ‘But none of you has yet mentioned the world’s most beautiful rose.’

At that moment into the room stepped a little boy, the queen’s son. His eyes were filled with tears and he was carrying a big book with silver clasps and bound in vellum. The book was open.

‘Mother!’ Said the little one. ‘Listen to what I have read.’ And the child sat down by his mother’s bedside and read about Him who suffered death on the Cross in order to save humanity. ‘Greater love there cannot be.’

The queen’s pale cheeks took on a pinkish shade, and her eyes became big and clear, as from the pages of the book grew the world’s most beautiful rose, the one that grew from Christ’s blood on the cross.

‘I see it,’ she said. ‘And those who have seen that rose, the most beautiful rose in the world, shall never die.'” -Hans Christian Andersen

“And we wept that one so lovely should have a life so brief…”

“The melancholy days are come, the saddest of the year,
Of wailing winds, and naked woods, and meadows brown and sere.
Heaped in the hollows of the grove, the autumn leaves lie dead;
The rustle to the eddying gust, and to the rabbit’s tread;
The robin and the wren are flown, and from the shrubs the jay,
And from the wood-top calls the crow through all the gloomy day.
Where are the flowers, the fair young flowers, that lately sprang and stood
In brighter light and softer airs, a beauteous sisterhood?
Alas!They are all in their graves, the gentle race of flowers
Are lying in their lowly beds, with the fair and good of ours.
The rain is falling where they lie, but the cold November rain
Calls not from out the gloomy earth the lovely ones again.
The wind-flower and the violet, they perished long ago,
And the brier-rose and the orchids died amid the summer glow;
But on the hills the goldenrod, and the aster in the wood,
And the yellow sunflower by the brook in autumn beauty stood,
Till fell the frost from the clear cold heaven, as falls the plague on men,
And the brightness of their smile was gone, from upland, glade, and glen.
And now, when comes the calm mild day, as still such days will come,
To call the squirrel and the bee out from their winter home;
When the sound of dropping nuts is heard, though all the trees are still,
And twinkle in the smoky light the waters of the rill,
The south wind searches for the flowers whose fragrance late he bore,
And sighs to find them in the wood and by the stream no more.
And then I think of one who in her youthful beauty died,
The fair meek blossom that grew up and faded by my side.
In the cold moist earth we laid her, when the forests cast the leaf,
And we wept that one so lovely should have a life so brief:
Yet not unmeet it was that one, like that young friend of ours,
So gentle and so beautiful, should perish with the flowers.”

-William Cullen Bryant

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“Music, when soft voices dies,
Vibrates in the memory–
Odours, when sweet violets sicken,
Live within the sense they quicken.
Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heaped for the beloved’s bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on.”

-Percy Bysshe Shelley

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Still in shock.
Rest in peace, Carol.

“Anyone can hide. Facing up to things, working through them, that’s what makes you strong.”-Sarah Dessen

Did you know that the lotus flower blooms from the depths of muddy waters?

It unfolds after breaking through the murky surface, to face the light. It closes and sinks beneath the surface once darkness falls each day. Despite repeatedly going beneath the waterline, the impurities never affect it–it remains pure and healthy. And it always, without fail during the course of its life, opens up again in the morning to face the sun.

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“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:19-23

“Who, being loved, is poor?”-Oscar Wilde

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I’m sure that if you live in any of the eight countries that celebrate it, or perhaps even if you don’t, you know that today is Valentine’s Day.

Even apart from being an ooey gooey romantic by nature, I love Valentine’s Day!I always have, from the time I was in kindergarten and we brought our little Looney Tunes paper valentines to give to all our friends. It is fun!So, personally speaking, I always feel a little baffled when people say they hate Valentine’s Day..

Why?

Do you hate it because you think it’s a totally commercial holiday invented by the candy companies to make some money?
Because, while it may be true that candy and card companies generate some pretty good income off of people this time of year, I don’t feel like that’s a good reason. Valentine’s Day (or the idea of giving someone a paper valentine, anyways) dates back all the way to 270 A.D. There’s so much history around it! And I guarantee you that in 270 A.D there weren’t big name card and candy companies around to start it. Besides, if you don’t want to give some of those corporations your money, then get creative with some construction paper and paper lace and a glue stick.

Do you hate it because there’s too much pink and too many fluffy bears for your taste?
Because, you know, red is a big color for Valentine’s Day as well. And just because you celebrate Valentine’s Day it doesn’t mean you have to buy a ginormous violently pink and fluffy teddy bear. There are so many other nice things you can buy that aren’t pink and aren’t grossly fluffy. Or, don’t buy anything at all. Just let your words and actions show those around you how you feel.

Do you hate it because you dislike chocolate?
Actually, I’m sorry but I have to withdraw that ridiculous question. The only reason you should “dislike” chocolate is if it makes you break out in hives or makes your throat swell up because you’re allergic.

Is it because you don’t have some significant other to celebrate with and therefore feel like it doesn’t apply to you?
Because that’s just ludicrous. You don’t need to have one specific person to show your love to on this day. Just be happy and positive about it and go out and let all of your friends and especially your family know that you value, appreciate, and care about them. Which leads me to the next question…

Do you hate it out of general protest that people shouldn’t need one day set aside during the year to tell people they love them?
I’ll agree with you that we should tell people in our lives that we love them far more often, but let’s get real here–how many of us actually do that? It’s just like any other number of things in our lives that we take for granted, or that we just don’t pay as much attention to because we are busy so much of the time. So, honestly, you can keep stamping your foot in protest til you fracture it and get a leg cramp, but I see nothing wrong with having a day to remind us to slow down and appreciate one another.

And, this isn’t necessarily a question–well, okay, maybe it is–but how can you hate a day all about love?How? That just seems really pointless and counterproductive to me.

So get up, go out, and tell somebody what they mean to you.Now.

I’m not kidding.