The New Story

Roses & Thorns

“God is in the roses and the thorns.” ~ Roseanne Cash

God is in the roses and the thorns. God, I can’t help but still picture as an old man with a long white beard living in the fluffy cumulus clouds. God has too many connotations, many of which just seem flat out wrong. Am I being too judgmental?

Life is in the roses and the thorns?Ahhh, yes. Capital L, Life. That is my word of choice these days for the indescribable mystery of being.

Life is in the rose petals as much as it in the droplet of scarlet that emerges from the prick of a finger.

My family came home from their shopping trip the other day with a beautiful white rose for our garden. My husband is the gardener; I am the admirer of the garden. Maybe it would be a good practice for me to do gardening, since I am so resistant to it. Yet I am content to weed words, to prune sentences, to water paragraphs and to cultivate essays.

I admit that I don’t often enough take the time to admire the garden so overflowing with herbs and flowers and fruit trees. I too frequently get stuck staring at a screen, mesmerized by the tasks at hand. The other morning, there I was at 5:00 am typing away and later I saw (on social media, of course) that there had been a rainbow next to the volcano at sunrise. I’d missed it! That was the price I paid for waking up and jumping into writing. I take consolation in the fact that I was writing something fresh and inspiring.

Life is in this moment, and it is an all-inclusive package. I (we, humans) have a tendency to want just the rainbows and lollipops, the fun, the entertaining, the blissful, my habit-pattern of avoiding the mud puddles, the shadow work, instead pursing any available method to eliminate the pain, melancholy spells and midnight anxieties. I have been, in other words, wanting only the roses and ignoring the thorns. But if you ignore the thorns, they still scratch you, even more deeply since you were unaware. If you devalue the mud in which the lotus grows, you have missed the point. Everything is interconnected. Nothing is ever independent, alone or isolated, although our modern society sure makes a lot of us feel that way much of the time.

And now I am going back into my tendency to write spiritual platitudes, to give the reader unsolicited advice on how to life a mindful life, to write with rose-colored glasses. I am sick of that shit. It’s been played out. For years, I’ve been publishing pithy blog posts that consist of lists, tips, techniques. People have read them and many have kindly written me with gratitude, which I so appreciate. These types of articles can be helpful, but they are also superficial. Too easy. And now, for me, too overdone.

When I was a child, I wanted to be the youngest person ever to write a novel. In my early to mid twenties, I was working on a novel manuscript, but really it was just my life and dramas with people renamed and details selectively altered. Then I took ownership and called it a memoir. Then I self-published it and there it is, sitting there, available. I have taken it down and put it back up multiple times.

I have been seeing a lot of writing prompts lately related to delving into the shadows, the resistance, the weaknesses, the difficulties. I am resisting writing about resistance. I am not even totally aware at this moment what is it that I am resisting, so how the hell  am I supposed to write about that anyway?

Yet, it is there and I can dig not too deep and find it. My thorns. Where I get hooked. My triggers. My habitual patterns.

One of them is always seeking what’s next.  What’s for lunch? When is the next group arriving? When are we going on our trip? I am time traveling in my mind and losing the precious opportunity to live life as it unfolds too much of the time.

In conclusion, I don’t know. All in all, I have no fucking clue. There’s the thorn.

In spite of this eternal cluelessness, or maybe because of it, I choose to come to writing circle on Monday morning. I choose to meditate when it’s time to meditate, to work when it’s time to work. To live with integrity, true to my word, present, alive, grateful. In spite of all obstacles, I choose to stop more often to smell the roses. There come the platitudes again. May they be of benefit.