By Gertrudes Samson, CLM, Britain
Let me tell you the story. The year 2020 was the 30th Anniversary of the Columban
Lay Missionaries (CLM), a great celebration across the society. The CLM here in
the Region of Britain, with the support of the Regional Council, were so
excited to mark it by celebrating it. We first thought of planting a tree that
would grow tall that people could look up, or plants that could bear flowers
that could climb up so people could easily see it too. Then, suddenly
coronavirus pandemic struck the world including the United Kingdom.
Our plan was postponed. There was lockdown after lockdown. Three series of lockdown happened. Then finally in November 2021 after more than one and a half years, the coronavirus restrictions were relaxed and it was announced that we could finally gather to celebrate the Feast Day of St. Columban. Lay missionaries in Britain got excited again to resurrect our plan to mark the 30th Anniversary of CLM. On the day we were meeting to finalize what to plant, Fr. Ray asked, “have you seen the article in The Guardian UK News online this October that a yellow rose breed was named after the first well documented Ethnic Minority Briton?” So, we all searched the internet and we read it together. It was true. There is a yellow rose named after the first Ethnic Minority Briton, a 18th Century gardener who was the first recorded Black person in North Wales. The meaning of the Yellow Rose was explained by its breeder that it signifies friendship, love, community, and togetherness of people from different backgrounds. We all agreed that is very Columban. Since most of our outreach ministries deal with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers and we are advocating those values too, we decided to plant a yellow rose to mark the CLM 30th Anniversary.
We contacted the distributor of the particular breed of rose several times, but we were informed that the supply is not yet available in the month of November. Just the same, we decided to plant a yellow rose and to adapt those beautiful values that a yellow rose signify. Then we started to combine it with the idea of planting a tree, so we thought of planting a yellow rose tree that people could look up to and admire.
Teresa and I happily dug the hole in the ground to prepare for the rose planting. The same day Nathalie called from the Garden Centre, telling us that there is no Yellow Rose Tree, only Yellow Bush Rose. As I spoke with her, I felt sad and thought, “God, why you are giving us a small bush rose not a rose tree?" Teresa’s reaction was similar. That very moment, too, God spoke the message of wisdom from the bush rose to my mind: “Humility… Humility is the reason, Ger.” Then scenes on the life of Jesus started to flash through my mind. Jesus chose to be born in a lowly stable not in a palace though he is the King of Kings. God chose to ride on a small donkey not on a tall stallion when he entered Jerusalem though he is The King of the World. God always chose the simple and little things. Our God is a humble God, and he wants us to follow his good example.
God’s message of wisdom through the
Yellow Bush Rose became clear to me that day, “I would like you to continually
learn the wisdom from the Yellow Bush Rose and follow its good example.” Before
Nathalie’s call ended, she said, “by the way, Ger, the name on the pot of this
rose is ‘anniversary rose’.” I remarked back, “Oh indeed, it is really the best
fit then for the occasion”. As I shared this with Teresa, she herself became at
peace too in having a Yellow Bush Rose. When I called the other lay missionaries
Sophia and Roberta they too agreed that we will go for the Yellow Bush Rose,
and we finally had consensus.
At the end of the ceremony some people said, “what you said about the rose is beautiful, Ger." Truly, I believed, that the message was from God not from me, spoken through the Yellow Bush Rose - the same bush rose which I learned to embrace and appreciate through faith, even before I saw it. The life of a missionary is like a bush rose, sometimes we seem invisible, very low profile. Together with the flowers are thorns too. Together with our joys are also challenges. During the season of winter, the rose got to be trimmed close to the ground so it would flourish more with new leaves in springtime. The same with us lay missionaries, “trimming” sometimes also comes which is painful, and it can leave us bare, but it is necessary so we can bloom more for God. Sometimes, we must let go of the things we are holding on to, to give way to new beginnings or new life.
As Jesus said in John 15: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener…every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
The more I continually reflect about the similarity of the life of the bush rose to our life as Columban lay missionaries, the more I realize the wisdom it brings. Indeed, God helped us find the best rose for us to mark the 30th Anniversary of Columban Lay Missionaries. When you visit the Columban House in Solihull, try to have a peep at our Columban Yellow Bush Rose near the entrance of the Sunroom. Whatever the season or state of the Columban Rose may be, who knows, God might speak words of wisdom to you too through the bush.
|Ger with fellow LMs in Britain|