rose of sharon

Outside of my window, where I read the paper every morning and have coffee, I can see the Rose of Sharon bush that mom bought for me three years ago.  This year it has looked prettier than any other year.  At least two different hummingbirds have sipped from her flowers. One green, the other red. And the monarchs have recently arrived to dance on those delicate pink and lavender petals.

Since I am all about dialogue I thought searching for more about the history of this pretty bush might give me fodder for my thoughts today.

And it did.

The Rose of Sharon, as a term, is everywhere, from the Bible and early texts of Judaism to the lyrics of many hippie love child singers.  When I looked at the text and some of its earliest translations from Hebrew, the experts say  those earliest writers were describing  the crocus.  The Rose of Sharon that we see in our yards is really a hibiscus and is the national flower of Korea.  The flower’s name in Korean is Mugunghwa (Korean Hangul: 무궁화, Hanja: 無窮花) meaning ‘immortal flower.’

Now that is something I can work with. Rationally we know flowers aren’t immortal. At least in their physical sense. That is particularly true as I occasionally painstakingly pick up the dead blooms that have fallen off the bush and littered my lovely attempt at clean looking mulch.

But if we don’t read it literally and instead move into the realm of metaphor, then immortal flower makes perfect sense, at least to me.

Whenever I see a blooming Rose of Sharon, there is this simple acknowledgment of its beauty that wells up in me. There is also some sense of nostalgia, some realization that I have always seen or known this precious plant. I can’t describe it and I don’t know exactly what it is, but I just love it. It’s old fashioned. I imagine it growing in my great grandmother Glaser’s garden in southern Kansas City, Mo or on the farm in Paris, AR where my grandma’s people, the Schmalz’, lived their lives and grew or raised everything they needed.

I am convinced this flowering bush has been with and in my family for decades.

In this way I believe in the immortality of a flower. A flower my mom gave me. A flower I look at every morning and think of her and her love for all growing things, especially me.

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