The tragedy of the world is that so many are unloved. Roses always look beautiful and smell sweet, and hence they are a prize to be possessed. Sweetbriar, however, has fragrant leaves, and they are never so fragrant as when it rains. The common people of the world are like these leaves; they have something fragrant about them, particularly when the days are dark and clouded and rain falls in their lives. Anyone can love a rose; but it takes a great heart to love a leaf.
—Archbishop Fulton Sheen
Gardens are boring if they are made up of only one kind of flower, even the most beautiful. A garden is striking only if it has a harmony between all its components: the drabber elements bring out the brightness of color, the different heights complement each other, and the arrangement of smells don’t overpower. Truly great gardens take into account the different seasons of the year and even the phases of the moon. As lovely as the individual plants are in their own right, a garden is made wonderful by the planning and forethought of its gardener.
Creation is God’s garden, a work we get to enjoy every day. Love is the proper response to creation. We love that there is something, rather than nothing. We love because it was an act of love that led to creation. We love because we are loved, and we communicate this love by taking care of the work of creation and by thanking its Creator. Sometimes we can be inured to the wonders that surround us each moment, but if we remember that creation is a gift, then there is no such thing as an unremarkable day. Every day is an extraordinary one, even if we don’t see it clearly.
Often we walk in a world that centers on us. We are the ‘star’ of our own show, though occasionally another remarkable person makes a cameo and merits our attention. The problem with this self-centered view of the world is that it simply isn’t true to reality. We are not the center of the universe; in fact, the universe could get along very easily without us—we don’t need to exist. Seeing the world for what it truly is, and our place within it, is the first step towards happiness. The humility of true sight allows us to enjoy and indeed rejoice in the gift of creation. Who can be truly happy living a lie?
One of the most beautiful and awesome aspects of creation is humanity. Sure, sometimes people aren’t always that nice to look at, and they can be disagreeable or downright evil; but every single person is created with an eternal destiny in the image of God. To spiritual eyes, human nature is unspeakably beautiful because it reflects Beauty Itself. Even the most seemingly insignificant person has an immortal soul that will outlast every nation on earth. We walk through a world populated with people who, for all ages, will bear witness before God to our goodness and love or lack thereof. In a world that can be gloomy and terrifyingly dark, we must strive to see the light of God shining in each person. They may not look beautiful or smell sweet, but as the Archbishop says, “Loving the rose is easy, but it takes a great heart to love a leaf.”
Image: Diego Rivera, The Flower Carrier