On a crisp September morning last year, I went with Shona, our LCM Health Coordinator, to buy a rose bush, something I’d longed for over the years. I selected a beautiful rose named Loving Memory with a delicate perfume. Back home, Shona planted it for me in the simple grey pot I’d also chosen.
That night, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II died.
I named my rose bush for the Queen. Being only three or so years younger than Her Majesty, I grieved over her passing, and reflected on her deep faith, her incredible commitment to duty, and her life of suffering as well as of privilege. She navigated a world of vast changes, never seen before.
So here we are in this Year of Grace 2023. It shows signs of fatigue, surely understandable from our perspective today. It seems to me that the pervading hopelessness is based on fear: of what will happen next, of whether we will cope, of anger at the loss of so-called normality, of frustration with the continued bombardments of life, and so much more. And yet we in the Mary Potter Family know that our God loves us with an everlasting, almost-crazy love!
What can we do to challenge the malaise around us? To give our neighbours a sense of hope and peace? Mary Potter’s inspiring phrase gives us the clue:
Hope is a flower that grows only on earth, and blooms best in adversity.
It’s wonderful, isn’t it! Hope is a fragrant flower that indeed grows only on earth. The important part of Mary Potter’s quote is that it blooms best in adversity.
We humans are built to be resilient; when disaster or crisis strikes, we can make choices: to react (negative) or to respond (positive). And so many people step up and respond! Ordinary women and men marshal themselves and others to do simply what needs to be done, to help both neighbours and strangers in their needs of the time. These superb acts of selflessness restore hope, bring comfort and even some healing to those injured and frightened. It’s the relief from “being frightened” that is so crucial, as I’m sure you all know. Please join me in thanking the countless ordinary people who do extraordinary things, often without being asked.
Finally, let us remember and take to heart that Hope is a spiritual virtue, bequeathed to us by our God of Compassion, to fill our souls with beauty even in the ugliness of disaster. We cannot “create” it ourselves, it is a gift from our gifting God. In order to grow and cultivate it, like my rose; we must pray for it constantly, and water it with acts of hopeful kindness to our neighbours.
My Loving Memory rose bush is producing glorious blooms that remind me constantly to keep my own hope alive, in the midst of the gloom around me. While I named it for Her Majesty the Queen, I’ll think of her at times but I have no wish to keep her alive. After her life of exemplary service, may she Rest In Peace.
And those of you who are old and not-so-helpful like myself, join me please in praying for and trying to live daily the virtue of hope.
Mary Scanlon, LCM.