The Rose Leaf

As a follow-up to John’s post “Why Does God Allow Bad Things To Happen To Good People?” I was asked to post a short story I wrote a few years ago. By the way, I’ve been looking for an illustrator to help me make this into a children’s book as well as a publisher who’d want to publish it, if anyone is interested.

The Rose Leaf
by Danny Carlton

She wasn’t all that much to look at, green, about an inch long with jagged edges, but she was very proud of herself. She absorbed the energy from the sun and pulled in Carbon Dioxide from the air and sent it on to the bloom at the top of the stem. She was mostly ignored by those who stopped by to admire the blossom, but that didn’t matter–she was part of something beautiful. In that she took pride and meaning.

She could look up and see the sun glistening off the dew that gathered on the rose pedals and know that she helped to contribute to that. All in all she felt good about herself. She accepted that the rose blossom was admired while she was mostly ignored, but things could be a whole lot worse–she could be just an ordinary leaf, or even worse something like poison ivy. She could see signs of last year’s leaves laying about, and knew that there would eventually come the day that cold weather would come and she’d drop off, but in the mean time she had a whole summer to be a part of one of the most beautiful things God placed on the earth.

She began her day as the sun peaked up from the treetops in the distance. She quickly began gathering the energy the rose bush needed and sending it up to the growing blossom above her. The air felt good and she pulled that in as well. Ah, life was nice, she thought, giving a sigh of pleasure. But wait . . . what was that above her? Why it was another blossom, just beginning to bud. Her joy grew in leaps and bounds. Now she would have two beautiful blossoms to care for. She would really have to work a lot harder, she thought, and maybe before . . .

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“Hey, HEY!! Watch were you’re going!” came the voice just as a heavy foot brushed past the rose bush. “You’ll crush the roses!”

“What, that thing?” the man asked pointing with his shovel. His wife rushed up to the rose bush that crept along the fence, and gently caressed the blossoms.

“Yes, I love these roses,” she said.

“Sorry, dear but we’ll be moving that fence next week to widen the pasture. Those roses will have to go.”

“Oh, no,” she said sadly, “do you have to?”

“I’m afraid so, we don’t have any choice,” He said walking away, “But I’ll see if I can’t plant you another one.

The rose leaf was confused, shocked. Where was she? The ground spun and lurched. Then she realized she was stuck on the man’s shoe. She had been torn away from her beloved rose bush, and now, early in the summer, she was just another loose leaf to be blown away with the wind. She was frantic, but there was nothing she could do. Before she knew what was happening she flew off the man’s shoe and landed on the ground. It was moist so she stuck, and even though the breeze blew past her the moist ground held her fast.

The rose leaf was devastated. Her whole life had been to care for the rose blossom above her on the stem, and soon there would have been another for her to care for, but now, that was no more; she was just another leaf on the ground, a meaningless piece of refuse. Then she realized that it wasn’t just the ground she’d landed on, but a somewhat fresh pile of horse manure, partially pushed into the dirt by the hooves of several horses. The rose leaf cried bitterly. She was worse than just a piece of refuse, she was covered in horse manure. She was now a loathsome, smelly thing that people would pull away from in disgust.

And there she sat–sad, depressed, forlorn; her world nothing but emptiness. She had been part of something beautiful and now was something even scavengers would avoid. When the sun sat that night she was still numb with shock.

The next day she glanced longingly at the rose bush across the field. She had been a part of that at one time, and the memory made her miserable. Day in and day out she lay there in her misery, wondering what she’d done to deserve such a cruel fate.

Then came the day that she slowly looked up to see men removing the fence the rose bush hung on. When they got to the section with her beloved rose bush they stopped, and pulled on heavy gloves. She could see the tiny blossom she’d noticed that fateful day just beginning to show some good color and a momentary wave of pride came over her, but it was quickly washed away by the sadness that had become a part of her life. But even that was quickly washed away by horror as she saw the men reach for the rose bush with their gloved hands and rip it up from the ground. She turned away so she didn’t have to watch, but she could still hear the roots as they were torn out of the soil.

The days ran together as she lay, numb and senseless in her misery. The springtime progressed and flowers bloomed around her, but she didn’t notice. She didn’t care. The men stomped all around her as they put up the new fence, and even though it ran directly over her, she barely noticed. Everything that had meant anything to her was gone. The days themselves became new tortures to torment her further.

She’d worked hard at caring for the blossom under her care. Why was she being punished for doing the right thing? There were the leaves of the milk weed, growing as boldly as you please, almost in the garden, yet it thrived. Over there was a patch of ragweed, unharmed, growing as if it owned the pasture. And here she sat, rejected, soiled, ugly, when her whole life she only tried to do what was right. The rose leaf cry herself to sleep almost every night in her sorrow.

But finally something odd began to happen. The rose leaf hadn’t paid attention and therefore hadn’t noticed that unlike the other fallen leaves she hadn’t dried out. But now something else strange was happening. Beneath her she felt the ground, but not just the ground she lay on top of, but the ground beneath that. Stretching to take a look, what she saw confused her. Tiny roots were extending from the tear on her lower side, and had gone into the ground, and to one side what looked like a very tiny stem was rising toward the sunlight. The roots and the stem were part of her. What could this be? After all the terrible things that had happened to her was this another tragedy to add to the list?

She watched the roots and stem each day, and the sadness of her condition slowly waned. What could it be, she asked herself, how could such a thing happen?

Then came the day that the sun rose to fall on tiny leaves at the top of the stem that came from her–that was her. Again she felt that familiar feeling of the energy the sun provided. She looked across the field and saw the empty space where the old rose bush had been, and wondered what mystery was taking place.

Day by day she grew. Before long she was tall enough to grab hold of the fence above her, and from there she crept up. She watched the farmer and his wife go about their busy day and she kept growing. Summer came and went and she grew and grew and when autumn came the few leaves she’d grown fell as they naturally do.

She slept beneath the snow the deep sleep that roses sleep in winter and dreamt of spring, of morning dew, honey bees and gentle breezes, and when spring finally came she awoke.

There were a few patches of snow still on the fields but the sun was warm, the ground moist, and the wind refreshing. Her new leaves came quickly and she still wondered what had happened. The tragedy of the previous year still lay heavy on her mind, but the mystery of her new life amazed her. Meanwhile, she soaked up the sun and the rain and the earth.

Then came the day the farmer and his wife approached the fence and walked along it. They walked slowly and stopped occasionally.

“I want it where I can see it from the kitchen,” the farmer’s wife said.

“Any particular kind?” the farmer asked.

“Well, I really miss the one we had before so if we could get one just like that, that would be perfect,” she said with a far away look in her eyes. They were almost to the spot the rose leaf had fallen.

“How about here?” the farmer asked looking at the house to judge the angle. His wife looked at the house then back at the fence then a look of joy spread across her face.

“Oh how precious,” she said as she bent down. The little rose bush that had been the rose leaf watched as gentle hands reached out and caressed one of her stems. Then she noticed that on the end of the stem was a little bud, just beginning to show some color.

“You led me out here to surprise me didn’t you,” the farmer’s wife asked smiling.

“Nope, wadn’t me,” said the farmer, “looks like the Good Lord beat me to it and planted you a rose bush Himself.”

They both stood back and admired the little plant and then the little rose bush, who’d been the forlorn rose leaf realized what had happened. She was no longer a part of something beautiful; she was something beautiful. Being torn from the rose bush and dropped into the smelly earth had been a necessary part of turning her into something much more than she ever imagined she could ever be. All the sadness she’d felt, all the tears she’d shed were wasted, because it hadn’t been a tragedy at all. It had merely been a beginning.

Over the years that rose bush grew and grew and covered much more of the fence than the original bush ever had. She produced so many beautiful rose blossoms that people would visit the farm just to see the roses. But the magnificent rose bush never forgot how sad she’d been when she’d been torn from her home, and no matter what happened, whether storm or wind or fire, drought or flood or freeze she didn’t worry–because she knew that God would always be bigger than any problem that could ever come.

© 2004 Danny Carlton

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