A rose by any other name!
“Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? …O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By Any Other Name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title.”
(Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II, Lines 38-49)
I have been thinking about roses a bit lately. They are my favourite plant, and it is a delight to see them come into their own at this time of the year. Mine are thriving on neglect, but it is wonderful to see those which are well tended in bloom, and to smell their fragrance as I pass.
In Romeo and Juliet, Juliet points to just how beautiful a rose is. Even if it carries a different name, just as her lover – Romeo – bore the signs of loveliness even as he came from a hated family. For me there is something intrinsically wonderful about a rose that means I would like it even if it had its name changed to ‘potato’ or ‘artichoke’. The colours, the fragrance (well at least some of the time), and the different structure and patterning to the petals all combine to make it a beautiful plant.
Yet, even within the rose family there are any number of breeds and types. I was reminded of this today reading an article in the news of rose growers in outback Queensland who cannot keep up with the demand for heat and drought hardy rose types. One is native to Australia, the others from Saharan Africa. They thrive in the dry heat and come in all sorts of interesting hues to boot!
And so it has got me thinking. While there is something ‘rose-y’ that unites all the different types – from the fairly standard ones in my garden, to the well-tended ones around town, to the hardy desert roses – the unique characteristics that each type brings means that it will thrive differently in different conditions. A common source with different capacities.
In many ways this is how God has grown his church. We should all be quite discernably ‘a rose’, like Romeo distinguishable as bearing beautiful qualities. In our case the qualities of Christ – being Christ-like and being found ‘in’ Christ. Yet God is very wise. God knows (literally) the various places we will need to grow and delights to gift us differently so that in each of our unique situations and environments we are able to bring out distinct characteristics fitting for the place. Always a rose but bringing certain aspects to bear given the needs and demands of the local situation. So what characteristics is God growing in you designed to help you flourish where you are planted?
And what does mean to flourish? Well the best test is how well we are helping the other roses around us to grow and be healthy themselves!
Bishop Matt Brain