"Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,
yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like
one of these." (Luke 12:27)
Have you ever tried to grow roses? We've always had a rose bush
or two in the yard, but they are a lot of trouble. They need plenty
of water, but if they get too wet, mildew is a problem. With too
little water, leaves turn yellow and bugs attack.
We happen to think the blooms are worth the trouble it takes to
keep them going. Those luminous shades of pink, red and orange come
right out of a Renaissance painting. The scent of a few cut roses
can change the atmosphere in a room. Summer roses are a gift, but
the blooms we anticipate most are the last ones to open before the
first hard frost.
Here's something we've noticed. Late in autumn, a rose bush
often sends up one final bud, waiting to burst like a Fourth of
July fireworks finale. Today, the bush by our doorstep has a
magnificent pink rose atop a four-foot spike. It is as though the
bush stretches, making one grand, parting effort before winter. We
like to think our autumn roses are saying, "Look! I'm not done
People, too, can bloom like autumn roses. They produce
abundantly in the prime of life. Then, just when everybody assumes
their prime is past, here comes a spike of energy producing a
magnificent, last burst of color.
Until his death at age 88, Michelangelo worked as the architect
of St. Peter's, designing the dome in his final years. Violin maker
Antonio Stradivari produced two of his most famous violins at age
92. The talents we have always used remain with us and can grow
sharper, even though our bodies sometimes betray us as we age.
There are other qualities that shine in our later years. Roman
statesman Cicero had it right when he said, "It is not by muscle,
speed or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by
reflection, force of character, and judgment; in these qualities
old age is…even richer."
In old age, the love we have always carried in our hearts blooms
stronger than ever. In retirement, the desire to make a difference
can cause us to reach for new heights. At this point, freed from
working for earthly success, we take great joy in blooming, just
because we can, right where we have been planted.
No longer always having to fulfill others' expectations, we can
choose to take great delight in being who we are. Many of us still
have time and energy for one last, challenging burst of life,
stretching for the sun, giving glory to the One who created