By Gramps for CrossDove Writers

Sometimes the most difficult thing to explain to another person is the image of pure hope.

Whether it be hope for a new job, hope for a cure of a medical condition, hope for rain to water a garden, hope for healing in a marriage, or sometimes just hope in reasons for living.

I have never said or even tried to say that I am near perfect, but one thing I have always tried to follow in my life is the simple expectation that my life will find hope, faith, peace, love, and grace, with hope as the first and foremost of that list.

That is because without hope one will have difficulty finding faith and without either of those it seems to be nearly impossible to find the final three of peace, love, and grace.

While I have had many spots in my life where I can look back and realize now that it was hope and faith that got me through, and I am sure I will have many of those same moments yet to come.

But when I think of the ultimate vision of hope, I think of a story my late father once shared in a sermon he gave, a story which seemed to become like a symbol for our family.

The story begins with a young boy who was needing to face some changes as his parents were uprooting the family and moving them from a small rural community on the plains near the area of the Badlands in South Dakota, to a new home in the much larger community of Rapid City, nestled at the foot of the beautiful Black Hills.

Many things were going to be new for the young man and his family, including going from a pump for water to running water and a home which provided full protection from the sometimes, howling winds of western South Dakota.

The young man was also looking forward to making new friends in a community where there would be many more things to do or places to go.

Unfortunately, the young man’s father was well known for his gardening, both for raising food to eat and for some of the most beautiful flowers one would ever think they could lay eyes on.

Here the problem arises as to the backyard of the new home was not at all a pretty sight as it had been used as a sort of a parking lot and general ground to play on. It was not anywhere close to being the ground needed for a garden as it was extremely hard and pressed down.

The solution was to work the dirt over and over and break it up.

Guess whose job it became to help work that yard into garden worthy dirt, the young man who was truly looking forward to making new friends.

Instead, he was assigned by his father to come home from school and grab a pick and shovel to work the dirt over and over, breaking it up over and over. A job for which the young man would soon come to dislike and give him a distaste for the thought of gardening.

After his father had added many trailer loads of organic matter and sand to lighten up the heavy gumbo dirt in that backyard, they finally managed some results.

But the early results seemed to be all weeds or grass in places where it was not supposed to be.

For years, many well beyond his time of living at home, this young man held on to those attitudes of dislike about the time of his youth that was spent working that dirt instead of being able to spend time with his new friends.

Several years later when the young man had returned home for a visit with his own family, he stood beside his father as they both peered out of the several dining room windows that looked out over a backyard that now was a successful garden with food to eat as well as a large section of some of the prettiest flowers one could imagine.

As the young man stood there, he began to recall and share with his father the memories of what he felt was suffering in spending all those days using a pick and shovel to break up the dirt over and over again. He remarked how much he began to resent the whole experience of having to do that over having the opportunity to spend time with his new friends in the bigger community.

The young man was quickly put in his place and began to feel ashamed and miserable as his father put his gentle hand on the young man’s shoulder and exclaim nothing but utter excitement and enthusiasm when he asked – “But son, will you ever forget our first red rose?”

Ashamed was the feeling now within the young man who had only remembered the hard dirt, the weeds, the backaches, the outings with his friends that were missed, the disappointment of it all while his father only remembered the success of hope and faith, the first red rose that bloomed to reward them for all their hard labor.

The joy of it all, the joy of pure hope that the hard work would find success and the faith that the success would be something as spectacular as a bright red rose.

This story was a true story about my own father and his father, my grandfather.

My father took small comfort in the thought that his reaction was rather typical and that it is rather sad that too many folks seem to remember the weeds rather than the roses in their life.

Every time I take a moment to remember that story, or even when I see or am presented with a red rose, I, like my father understand his reaction because I like so many can put ourselves in those shoes of remembering the weeds and thorns instead of the beauty of the red rose.

So many of us find unhappiness and despair in our life due to that type of view of life. So many walk-through life with a downcast frown and a suspicious looking eye due to remembering the weeds and thorns instead of the successes and red roses.

Too often people accept the fruits of toil with complaints about what the work has taken out of us to the point that when we receive honor, we instead have sorrow at the slowness of the honor arriving.

How many of us can recall past acquaintances (and maybe even some current ones as well) only in terms of their faults and failures.

How many of us have left places of work, places we have lived, or sometimes even a vacation with only memories of the negative, the weeds and thorns.

Yes, it is hard, and it seems to be human nature to be tempted at being bitter and negative in our memories when we have been involved in anything that may have had suffering, trials, hard work or even tragedy.

Instead, can we choose to look or find ways to always keep within our hearts and minds the hope and faith that no matter what, it will be a better day, week, or year ahead.

I am getting to that age where many of my friends, family and associates are leaving their earthly realm and I find myself at times wondering how my relationship was with them.

Did they leave this earth remembering the weeds and thorns of our relationship, or did they remember the red roses of a relationship filled with constant hope, faith, peace, love, and grace?

Shortly after my father shared that story of the ‘The Rose’ as part of a sermon, the church we were at took the rose to heart and began using it as a symbol of hope and faith, and to this day, the red rose is always present at nearly all our family gatherings.

Do you have the hope and faith in that red rose in your heart and life, or are you dealing with the weeds and thorns that may come along the way to it?

With that – hugs, prayers, blessings, and happy thoughts from Gramps.

(Copyright@2021, CrossDove Writers – no part of this posting may be printed, copied, or used without written permission by CrossDove Writers and Gramps.)