I was sitting here enjoying my coffee when this story mugged me. Stopped me in my tracks. Come on in, have a seat and share a holiday cup with me. The story goes this way. . .
Having four visiting family members, my wife was very busy, so I
offered to go to the store for her to get some needed items, which
included light bulbs, paper towels, trash bags, detergent and
Clorox. So off I went.
I scurried around the store, gathered up my goodies and headed for
the checkout counter, only to be blocked in the narrow aisle by a
young man who appeared to be about sixteen-years-old.. I wasn’t in
a hurry, so I patiently waited for the boy to realize that I was
there. This was when he waved his hands excitedly in the air and
declared in a loud voice, “Mommy, I’m over here.”
It was obvious now, he was mentally challenged and also startled
as he turned and saw me standing so close to him, waiting to
squeeze by. His eyes widened and surprise exploded on his face as
I said, “Hey Buddy, what’s your name?”
“My name is Denny and I’m shopping with my mother,” he responded
“Wow,” I said, “that’s a cool name; I wish my name was Denny, but
my name is Steve.”
“Steve, like Stevarino?” he asked. “Yes,” I answered. “How old
are you Denny?”
“How old am I now, Mommy?” he asked his mother as she slowly came
over from the next aisle.
“You’re fifteen-years-old Denny; now be a good boy and let the man
I acknowledged her and continued to talk to Denny for several more
minutes about summer, bicycles and school. I watched his brown
eyes dance with excitement, because he was the center of someone’s
attention. He then abruptly turned and headed toward the toy
Denny’s mom had a puzzled look on her face and thanked me for
taking the time to talk with her son. She told me that most people
wouldn’t even look at him, much less talk to him.
I told her that it was my pleasure and then I said something I
have no idea where it came from, other than by the prompting of
the Holy Spirit. I told her that there are plenty of red, yellow,
and pink roses in God’s Garden; however, “Blue Roses” are very
rare and should be appreciated for their beauty and
distinctiveness. You see, Denny is a Blue Rose and if someone
doesn’t stop and smell that rose with their heart and touch that
rose with their kindness, then they’ve missed a blessing from God.
She was silent for a second, then with a tear in her eye she
asked, “Who are you?”
Without thinking I said, “Oh, I’m probably just a dandelion, but I
sure love living in God’s garden.”
She reached out, squeezed my hand and said, “God bless you!” and
then I had tears in my eyes.
May I suggest, the next time you see a BLUE ROSE, don’t turn your
head and walk off. Take the time to smile and say Hello. Why?
Because, by the grace of GOD, this mother or father could be you.
This could be your child, grandchild, niece or nephew. What a
difference a moment can mean to that person or their family.
The reason this story grabbed me so is that I encountered a blue rose yesterday. I could have easily bypassed the man. After all, class was over and we all needed to get into the worship center for, ah–well, worship.
He was dressed in Early Goodwill, all exposed skin weather-swarthy, hair long and beard roughly trimmed. I surmised the sum of his present earthly chattel was contained in the medium-sized backpack on the chair beside him. His eyes were at once world-wise and vulnerable as if life had somehow accelerated into a faster lane before he was firmly gripping the wheel and the ride was a wild one. His gaze was reserved but inquisitive. He’d once been someone better and stronger.
I was in the classroom early, preparing the whiteboard and noodling my notes before the class began arriving. The Blue Rose was already there, seated alone, sipping some coffee that hadn’t quite perked enough yet. In retrospect that makes sense. I saw an empty classroom, a blank board needing attention and was expecting a few precious moments of solitude to decide how to arrange points, colors, etc.
He saw a place of cool shelter from summer heat, a place to rest from pedaling his bicycle all over town unsuccessfully hunting work, and some food and coffee when it was ready.
When it’s all you have you savor every opportunity.
When I noticed him quietly sitting I went to him, offering my hand and greeting him. The look in his eyes reminded me of stray dogs I’ve seen. Alert watchfulness along with a hesitant tail-wag: “I’ll be friendly if you will because I’m lonely and hungry. But if you’re gonna kick me, too, I’ll just mosey on.” He’d chosen a seat on the end of a row of chairs because only one side has to leave a vacant seat. It’s not so obvious that way that few care to sit next to him. It’s also easy to get up and get away without too much trouble.
We chatted while I wrote amazing stuff on the board. The Blue Rose was no mental lightweight. His questions and responses revealed a mind that, though untrained, was agile and teachable. It’s an admirable trait one might confer upon politicians. And university students.
I never did get down to the worship center. I invested some time and attention in the Blue Rose. I’m glad I did; he says since he’s been unable to land a job here, he’ll be back one more week and then will leave to try somewhere else. As I stood clasping his hand and praying with and for him, it dawned on me I may never see this man again, outside Heaven.
The Blue Rose – at least this one – knows he’s paying a dear price for an earlier, more adventureous life filled with the kinds of excitement upon which the law generally frowns. Having traded mature wisdom for youthful derring-do, he’s making a strong effort to walk with Jesus without all the trappings that look good without the odium of being good.
Reconsider the next time you cross paths with a blue rose. Overcome your first instinct to duck, dodge, detour or back away. Alliteration need only go so far. You just may encounter one of life’s Most Unforgettable Characters. You, too, might find a blue rose among all those other colors.
In fact, it might become one of your most interesting hobbies: seeking out new blue roses, boldly going where—-hey! There’s that music again. Weird.
Here’s to you, Blue Rose. I’m the richer for having taken time to listen to your story. Thank you for letting me have a glimpse inside your world–and a little of what it looks like from where you ride. I need to be reminded from time to time just how blessed I am. No matter what comes my way, and if today was my last one here I have already been blessed beyond all expectations.
Thank you, BR. You gave me reason yesterday to slow down my speeding life and cherish what are its most important values.
Sincerely, just another faded dandelion in life’s garden.
© D. Dean Boone September 2013