“Unforgiveness is a slow-acting, painful poison that we drink, in the vain hope that our enemy will perish.”
A young lady found herself wandering bare foot and carefree through a beautiful garden. It was well kept, neatly maintained. Predictable. As she ambled down the well manicured garden paths, idly contemplating each twist and turn that lay ahead, she enjoyed the comfort of knowing that nothing in that beautiful space could hurt her or take her by surprise.
Her favourite part of the garden was undoubtedly the roses. The colours lined up neatly, in a breathtaking gradient from the deepest reds – so dark they almost looked black – past delicious ice-cream pinks, and ending neatly in the crispest white she’d ever seen.
She dutifully stopped to smell each and every bloom. How could she resist? They all seemed to hold their own secret scent, meant for her dainty nose alone.
However, she hadn’t gone far when her amble was brought up short with a piercing stab of pain. She’d stepped on a thorn, and it had lodged itself deeply in the soft skin where her toes met her foot.
She cried out in agony and limped awkwardly back to the house to see what could be done. Her suffering was severe. It wasn’t just the physical pain of having a barb lodged inside her. She felt betrayed. Her beautiful, safe afternoon had been shattered, and she wasn’t sure she’d ever have the courage to walk through that garden barefoot again. How could she be sure there wasn’t another concealed prickle out there, waiting to ensnare her, to hobble her?
When she found help, they tried to pull the spike out of her foot, but to their surprise, she resisted.
“This is MY thorn,” she retorted. “It’s my pain, and I will choose when, how and IF I let it go. Until then, that thorn is staying just where it is. I want to make sure that whenever I see that stupid, ugly rose garden, it knows what it did to me – how it’s ruined my life!”
And so it was that every day, this stubborn, crippled young woman would hobble out to the garden (well shod!) and admire all the lovely flowers that grew there, and the orderly paths arranged around them. But she turned her head, and raised her nose in the air, and (sniffing timorously as she held back the tears over what she had lost) she would stalk past the roses and stoically avoid their gaze, allowing them just enough view of her to see the damage they had done.
The roses, for their part, gave out their beautiful scent, and filled the garden with their sumptuous colours, and rustled among themselves as the days cooled into Autumn. They spared no thought for our invalid.
As Spring bloomed into pulsing Summer, then cooled into the mellow sleepiness of Fall, still our young protagonist allowed no one to remove the shrapnel she wore in her foot, a badge of honour announcing the roses’ betrayal to any who would listen. Finally, however, the thorn began to fester. Her foot swelled up. The pain was excruciating. The smell was unbearable, and the foot’s dewy fresh tint faded to sickly green.
At last she no longer had a choice. It was time to lose her leg, or lose her life. The surgery was painful, and the recovery time seemed interminable. Her crippled state ceased to be a personal choice, a mark of pride worn to signify a long-held grudge. Now it was permanent, as were the crutches she needed to visit her garden.
Notwithstanding, she bravely soldiered on, visiting the flowers, breathing in their heady scent. She looked longingly at the rose garden, missing the pleasure these blooms had once given her. Even now, however, with one foot securely locked in a boot up to her knees, and the other foot gone altogether, she still lacked the confidence to face her old enemies and admire their loveliness.
Then she saw it. A thorn detached itself lazily from its rosy branch and sidled to the floor, clearly waiting for an unwary foot to chance upon it. She watched in anticipation to see what the roses would do. Surely they would get rid of the thorn? Surely, after all her suffering, they’d realise what they’d done, and make amends? Surely!
But the roses kept doing what roses do. They didn’t care. They didn’t know. They couldn’t change. That’s how it is with roses.