Gilland: Contrasting thorns and roses

Bougenvillea blooms
Bougenvillea blooms (Shutterstock)

I enjoyed a “staycation” recently and spent the week doing some fun chores and projects around our home. The weather cooperated too, for the most part (it was hot, but hey, this is Florida).

One of our projects that we got done was clearing our back fence of some overgrown bougainvillea plants. Our back yard has a tall chain link fence around the perimeter, and beyond our yard is a greenbelt, something that we love about our lot.

So the work began – clearing those pretty but thorn-filled branches. We like the blooms they produce, but their branches, reaching 12 feet high, were entangled in the fence – and blocking our view. We decided to take them down. 

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Silly me. I thought the only concern was the thorns. I should have read up just a bit more about these beautiful but sometimes painful plants. Among the things I should have done: first, wear jeans and a long sleeve shirt. Second, invest in some good leather gloves. Finally, consider dynamite and get it over quickly. 

Well, that last one wouldn’t really work, but I have to say that at one point, that option did come to my mind!

The surprise element was the fact that there is a poisonous nature to these plants that brings yet another level of woe to the uninformed gardener, leaving behind a rash and an itchy condition very much like poison ivy. 

That, plus the fact that my legs and arms looked like I barely survived a cat fight, left me miserable for several days.

I would have said in the past that I have a “love-hate” relationship with plants that have thorns, but now I must admit that there’s not much love for them at all! It’s crazy that branches bearing the beauty of a rose also produce thorns that can really hurt.

Thorns are mentioned throughout the Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments, and always in the context of the trouble and pain that life can contain. 

Perhaps the most extreme example would be the cruel crown of thorns that was shaped for the head of Jesus, when Roman soldiers mockingly talked of His kingship as they were raising him on the cross in crucifixion. He endured that pain, and much more than we can comprehend on that day. And he did it, all because of love.

I’m healed up now, but I don’t think that I will soon forget my experiences in the back yard. And I pray I never forget my appreciation for my Lord, who wore those thorns for me.

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