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The Rev. Leslie Houseworth-Fields
These words from the 15th century German hymn “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” remind me of the 20th century poem by Tupac Shakur, “The Rose that Grew from Concrete”:
Did you hear about the rose that grew
from a crack in the concrete?
Proving nature’s law is wrong it
learned to walk without having feet.
Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams,
it learned to breathe fresh air.
Long live the rose that grew from concrete
when no one else ever cared.
In his book of the same title, Tupac wrote that this poem is autobiographical, suggesting that he saw himself as one who flourished despite coming from a hard, broken place that offered little, if anything, to nourish life. And yet, before his untimely death, Tupac rose to become one of the greatest rap artists of all time and a prophetic voice of his generation.
In both Tupac’s poem and this traditional German carol, God springs up a rose in an unlikely place or time. This flower, known for its beauty and fragrance, stems from a vine that is almost indestructible. Perhaps this is why the rose has been used throughout history as a symbol of life, beauty, and hope.
This Advent season, may we remember that out from the concrete—the rough, dry places— life, beauty, and hope appear. Life that cannot be destroyed by death. Beauty that cannot be marred by hate. Hope that cannot be overcome by despair. As we await the return of our Savior, may we open our eyes to the unlikely times, places and seasons where roses are in bloom.
Prayer: Holy One, Help us to spring forth each day with the tenacity of a rose, that we may share life, beauty, and hope in this world. Amen.