By Rev. Joan Kessler
There is a saying about roses a German priest from the 17th century once said, “The rose has no why. It blossoms because it blossoms. It pays no attention to itself, nor does it ask whether anyone sees it.” Isn’t this beautiful statement full of truth? There is no why; a rose is a rose and does beautiful rose things. This morning, we lean into the No Why of being like a rose… of being community which even with all of its beauty that we uphold week after week, some days, it is just hard work. We see things from different perspectives and experiences. We have to be responsible with the finances and yet we live as a community of faith that cares about its future. We hold this tension and anxiety. And sometimes it just bubbles over the top and all over the floor.
What would it look like to live like a rose? How would our life together be different? I think people would come through the door and say I am home… I find belonging here. And then the craziest and most unexpected thing happens… we stop calculating and counting… we stop justifying a means to the end… we remember barren fig trees and prodigal sons and trust there is always another way to live into the future… to be in relationship with people and causes we care about. We may not always get it right… some will disagree over decisions and others will offer no opinion… and it is all the beautiful ways we form a rose garden. We stop living into the answer of Why and we just give of ourselves… we discuss, we discern, we decide and then we move ahead.
Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet reminds me of the fragility of human friendships and intimacy. I love the way Jesus responds to Mary’s beautiful, useless gesture and recognizes it is always worthwhile and will live forever in spite of Judas’ opinion. Mary loves because she loves, she anoints because she anoints, and she isn’t deterred. She gives generously and without concern for her own circumstances… she bought the costly nard with all she had as a way of thanking Jesus for what he has meant to their family, one last time.
I want to live like this… without a why. I want to live generously and not worry about the cost or the bank balance. We are not to ignore the poor… we know this. But today Jesus suggests it is ok to give without conditions or strings attached. This is harder than it sounds. Our world spins on the economy of exchange and transactions. This morning we are invited to consider how we give and how we receive gifts. Are there strings attached? Do we have trouble letting others do beautiful and generous things for us?
Soon we will be moving into our congregational meeting to talk to one another about our hopes and dreams for the future, and our fears and our realities. They come together. There is a time to love and to give without thought to the cost… and there is a time to calculate and to plan and weigh decisions out. Roses are but one example of generous beauty that just fills a space by their mere presence... there is no why.
I don’t think I can ever truly live without a why if I am honest. But to live from a generous place where it didn’t matter what others thought would be a gift indeed… poured out all over the floor and its fragrance filling the space… why not?