Friday, November 23, 2007

Fresh Red Roses

Happy Post-Thanksgiving, PDX!

Fresh red roses on the beach...

We'll get back to that in a minute, but first a word from our sponsor... or not. Actually, an apology. A little while back I posted an address for sending get-well cards to "A Recovering American Soldier" at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Nice thought; but it may be an urban legend, or a cyber-gag. Recent word has it that WRAMC will not deliver such mail, and the USPS will not accept it. Too bad! Too bad if we live in such a world. Anonymous letters may contain harmful substances and heartbreaking insults. Too bad we are a society like that. What ever happened to trust? What ever happened to integrity? What ever happened to honesty? Gone, I guess, perhaps not to be rcovered fully in this society before we fade from the earth.

But maybe it's God's way of telling us to be genuine. In other words, don't care more about an anonymous soldier whom you will never meet than the one down the street or across town from you that you haven't bothered to get to know. Keep it local. Keep it second-person instead of third. Kinda like Luke's version of the Beatitudes in comparison to Matthew's. Life is meant to be lived face-to-face, not in theory.


Jean and I are in Cannon Beach, OR. Drove down here Thursday noon for two nights. Weather has been fantastic, and we are miles and miles from the nearest mall and mega-store (aka a dumping ground for lead-laced products made by ex-Maoists). This is our summer vacation, two nights at the Coast. And it is wonderful. I'm even starting to take photographs again, just for fun. And I miss the camera that the home burglar robbed me of in January of last year. The replacement just is not the same... Shame on him!

This morning there was only a light breeze on the beach. It was mid-to-high tide, so the surf kept us yards and yards away from Haystack Rock. We walked briskly heading south toward that distinctive lnadmark. I noticed the first one washed up on the beach, run aground in a nice cushion of sea foam. A red rose cast into the sea and returned respectfully by the sea to the land. I photographed it in the bright morning sun thinking of ways I might write it into my album of photos on the Oregon Vietnam Veterans' Memorial.

A couple of steps later there was another, then another, then a clump of them, then just a few drowned petals. Red roses all. That's when I began to get another picture. Perhaps not just a coin tossed into a wishing well, perhaps not just a casually tossed token of a boyfriend's affection.

Perhaps these were instead a family's remembrance for a life lived. Perhaps they were the last beauty of a living thing sent to sea to bless the ashes of another living thing. Ashes. Perhaps ashes of a friend, a Mom, a Dad, a son, a daughter. Perhaps a veteran of Iwo Jima, Inchon, Ia Drang or Iraq. Or perhaps a veteran of motherhood and mentoring, now missed and mourned. Fresh red roses on a beach...

Whoever had sent those roses to sea had clearly done so in remembrance. And I believe in thanksgiving. And I hope in thanks-living.

A wise teacher of mine once said, "Thankfulness is an attitude in the heart of the giver that inspires the same in the heart of the receiver." Just backward from how we usually think. We don't become most thankful by receiving. We become thankful by giving, even if we have nothing more to give than fresh red roses on a beach.

The moon over the Pacific tonight is more magical than words can say. God gave it to earth, to creation, long before we were ever here to give thanks. Thankfulness is an attitude in the heart of the fresh red roses on the beach.

Thankfulness is an attitude in the heart of the giver that inspires the same in the heart of the receiver. Dear hearts, give thanks in peace!


Pastor Roger

1 comment:

scott said...

Pastor Roger,

I was at Cannon Beach the same day you were and also noted the flowers washed ashore. I think I may have found an important clue regarding their origin. While the link to the message written in stone at Hug Point is tenuous, it does open different avenues of speculation. I have a picture of one of the flowers posted at my photo blog, The Narrative Image ('s about halfway down the Seaside Thanksgiving page.