In my curiosity, I can find no definitive meaning of “The Rose of Sharon” from the Bible (Song of Solomon 2:1). Yet, there are some “leap of faith” connections that I place in my “poetic license” file at this special time of the year. I am not alone in noticing the possible typology of Jesus Christ as the Bridegroom (the Rose) and the Church as the Bride. I have been fascinated over the years that the Rose of Sharon has become a “thing,” including a lovely appliqué quilt pattern. So many things in God’s Creation “pour forth speech.” (Psalm 19)
Song of Solomon 2:1 says, “I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.” The bride is the speaker of this statement. Between brief research of my Bible notes and some internet checking, the closest translation of the “rose” is crocus (a member of the crocus family or hibiscus family), a very humble flower. Very unlike the powerful, special occasion red roses that we shop for at the florist. Instead, an understated, simple flower. Many colorations, but predominantly red-pink-purple hues.
“Sharon” is more positively a place – the Mediterranean coastal plain between Joppa and Caesarea. In Solomon’s day, “Sharon” was considered a place of great fertility. Song of Solomon 2:2 goes on to say, “Like a lily among thistles is my darling among the maidens.” The bridegroom is now the speaking this. He acknowledges the contrast of the quiet beauty of his maiden against the devoid and raw places.
In this season of Advent, with all the reds and greens, we celebrate the humble and simple baby born in Bethlehem. The Rose. The Rose that stood in a great valley against all the odds and atrocities of human kind. The Rose that would be trampled one day. The Rose that would bring about such amazing healing. The fertility that would bring life to lost souls. The supreme peace offering. The flow of love.
Having just enjoyed a very cup-runneth-over Thanksgiving with my family, my only impatience is against the barriers that swoop in to prevent the flow of continuous gratitude for blessings in my life, and most especially the presence of the Rose (Jesus), the sweet aroma of the life and meaning He breathes into the mundane. The things that steal the vitality out of this season of celebration, I am up against. I keep reminding myself to smell the roses.
The valley of tears, condemnations, unmet expectations, sicknesses, anxieties, inconveniences, the all-about-me stuff, the complaining spirit, the darkness that chases away the flickering light. All these things are the thieves of my soul.
But, my blessings simply cannot be hidden, however weighty the distractions pressing in, even like the understated rose in the coastal plain. If I can continue to picture the Rose of Sharon as symbolic of Christ and the Church, and without wildly overreaching on a brief biblical reference in the Old Testament, I see the Rose in so many things…
Salvation. Bought with a price. The turning of my heart toward Him. The amazing grace of Jesus Christ. My family. My existence. My ability to enjoy. My yearning to worship Someone other than my favorite idols – food and drink (pumpkin spice lattes), work, comfort, achievement, self-preservation, even ministry. Anything that eclipses the smell of the Rose in my life threatens to snuff out the thriving of my eternal soul. I know this.
One of my favorite blessings was spending the day before Thanksgiving with my oldest granddaughters preparing for the Thursday feast. While one spent time in the kitchen with me primarily (clocking serious long hours), the other went on very important errands with Pop Pop. The joy of time spent working on something important. It was definitely a season of smelling the roses. Yes, at times – exhausting! But, there was great anticipation of a delicious array of foods to come, including country ham, turkey and oyster stuffing, some new recipes and some old favorites. The fruitfulness at the end of many hours of thought and work. The satisfaction of seeing grandchildren playing together. The comfort of a fire in the pit. The perfect climate outdoors featuring fall colors and cool temperatures.
One moment we expressed thanksgiving to God in prayer. We reflected on the Rose of Thanksgiving. By His grace, we actually have family. By His grace, we actually celebrate faith in Him. By His grace, we look ahead to Christmas. By His humbling work on the cross, by His entry into the world as a baby, He became our Rose of Sharon. I hope to smell the roses of this season by simplifying, slowing down, not getting anxious, and not bending to crazy expectations or misguided traditions. I plan to create some white space, some margin, some time to remember the Rose of my faith. All I want for Christmas is to enjoy the mass of blessings that I did nothing to earn, but that I receive with thanksgiving from Him, and most importantly the Rose of Sharon – Jesus alone.
Psalm 107:1-8 “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say this – those He redeemed from the hand of the foe, those He gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south. Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle. They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men.”
Smell the roses. Smell the Rose.