In my research on the color red, I have begun to dive into my own heritage of being Ojibwe. I was not brought up on the traditional teachings but as I have gotten older and looked into this heritage I found a lot of teachings that ring true to my soul. I have found an artistic voice that preaches these teachings that I didn't even know existed until this research began. One story in particular moved me to tears. The Rose Story, taken from a text written by an Ojibwe elder, Lillian Pitawanakwat. I am grateful for this lesson and for all the teachings that I come across that my elders, grandfather and father would have taught me if they could have.
We have many teachings on the value of nurturance. When I was a child my father told us about the Rose Story. He said the Creator asked the flower people, “Who among you will bring a reminder to the two-legged about the essence of life?” The buttercup answered, “I will, Creator, I will.” And the Creator said, “No, you can’t, because you’re too bright.” All of the flowers offered their help. At the very end the rose said, “Let me remind them with my essence, so that in times of sadness, and in times of joy, they will remember how to be kind to themselves.”
So the Creator, the Master Gardener, took a seed of the rose and planted it in Mother Earth. The winds tilled the soil and the warm rains gave it water until a very small sprout came through the ground. Day after day it grew. The stem sprouted little thorns that were very, very sharp. After the thorns came the little leaves. As time went on, a little bud formed. After much care this little bud bloomed into a full rose.
And so life is like a rose. The thorns are our life’s journey; without them we would lack the hard won teachings that we need to in order to grow. Life’s experiences make us who we are. And like the rose, we too decay and die many times in a life time only to come back to fruition again and again, after reflection, meditation, awareness, acceptance and surrender.
My father told us the rose is both life and it’s gifts.