Honorable Mensch-ion

Roses and Thorns

My friend has a tradition at his dinner table. He asks each member of his family to share a “rose” and a “thorn,” something positive and something negative that occurred that day. This activity is a way for the children and parents to connect and puts the day in perspective.

Theologian Paul Tillich writes that a symbol opens up levels of reality which otherwise are closed for us. Roses and thorns are purely symbols, but they represent the reality of the world in which we participate. We each have difficult and beautiful moments, often occurring simultaneously.

As Moses shepherds his sheep, he sees the burning bush. Our Midrash asks, “Why did God reveal Godself to Moses in the form of a thorn bush that was burning but not consumed?” Moses thought that the Egyptians would destroy Israel. God said, just as the thorn bush is burning but not consumed, so too the Egyptians will not be able to destroy Israel.

When the thorn wounds our flesh, that immediate pain is unbearable. We cannot fathom a rose. Yet, our tradition teaches us that wounds too will heal, leave scars, and one day we will be blessed with another rose.

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