A Rose By Any Other Name…

Close to 40 years ago at my yearly retreat, I literally was “hit between the eyes” by God. I realized, as I never had before, God’s deep, personal, passionate love for me. I went into that retreat convinced God’s message to me would be “Shape up, Margaret!” but it was totally the opposite.

This retreat was a deeply transformative time for me, not only then, but even to the present day—I realized more deeply than ever before who God truly was. To try to explain this a bit more, I need to let you know about another experience that occurred at this same retreat. At the beginning of the retreat, each participant was given a rose. The one I received was a pink rose. The person next to me told me the symbolism connected to each rose’s color. She told me that a pink rose meant “to remember”.

This retreat was powerful for me—a real “God experience” unlike any before. But being me, I needed proof. Well, it most definitely came roaring forward like a storm in many forms. Literally, the homilies, the scripture given to me to pray over, the songs sung at Mass, etc. were the same message to me: “Remember, what you are hearing/experiencing Margaret is true. Believe.”

The day I left the retreat (my first pink rose had died by then) I was met by a friend carrying three pink roses! By the time these roses had died, another person plucked the last rose left in his garden for me. It was pink.

When that one died, school was just starting, and a student came rushing up to me that first day with a gift–a pink rose. Yes, you are getting the picture here. Literally, for almost six months (or more) every time my pink rose(s) died, another arrived to take its place. A miracle in my hand. Talk about the generosity of our God!

I remember walking into a religious goods store about six months after the retreat and finding a plaque with the words: “A Rose is God’s Autograph” and the color of the rose on the plaque? Pink, of course! A subtle reminder for me just in case I had forgotten or didn’t believe God’s message. Right?! His loving devotion to me continues to this day. I have since received pink roses at needed times of conviction and/or affirmation.

P.S. The message of the pink rose has slightly changed over the years. God has deepened it from “calling to mind and believe what I have said to you, Margaret” to “Help Me, Margaret, to re-member My people.” I do believe and embrace God’s call to being a “bridge-builder”—assisting persons who feel alienated from God, from the church, etc. to come back home to Him. This has been and continues to be my sacred gift God asks me to offer others on His behalf. Gladly, I remember and do so without any holy hesitation.

-Sister Margaret Johnson, O.S.U.