#1 NYT bestselling author Linda Lael Miller


Once….

…in a time bearing a strange and sweet resemblance to NOW, there was a rose, slumbering in the shadow of a wall, dreaming. Sometimes, those dreams were scary, but they were always marked by a mysterious yearning. The rose, you see, did not know it was a rose. It thought, in the confusion of slumber, that it had once been a weed, torn asunder and scattered upon hard and unyielding ground, where it could not take root. But sometimes, it heard a Voice, or thought it did. “Wake up!” the Voice said. It was gentle, but it was insistent, too. “Rose!” It said. “Wake up!” Occasionally, a nail-scarred hand shook the stem upon which the rosebud dreamed, but the bud contracted. Even in its sleep, it knew about pruning shears. “It hurts to grow,” it protested. “Go away,” it said. But the Gardener wouldn’t give up.
The rose felt a quickening inside. A stirring. At first, there was pain, because waking up, like breaking up, is hard to do. But the Voice would not be silenced. “I love you,” It said.
If I wake up, the rosebud thought, I will have to bloom.
“It is the nature of a rose to bloom,” the Voice replied.
The rose became aware of its roots, formerly cramped, now spreading slowly in the Soil of Grace. The rose felt the warmth of the Sunlight, too. And the Sunlight was unfailing, unrelenting, unfathomable Love. It opened its eyes, though, rummy at first, and saw the smiling face of the Gardener.
“You are beautiful,” the Gardener said. “In all of creation, there is only one rose like you.”
“What do I do now?” the rose asked. “I have aphids. Brown spots. And some of my leaves are withered.”
“Now,” said the Gardener, “you bloom.”
“Is there a to-do list?” asked the rose, for it was earnest, and conscientious, and wanted to bloom correctly.
The Gardener smiled. “Yes,” He said. “Feel your roots spreading in the Soil of Grace. Feel the Sunlight of Love, warming you and filling all the dark and empty places. And when the night comes again, rest in the peaceful knowledge that darkness, too, is part of the cycle.”
“What if I get it wrong?” asked the rose.
“How can you get it wrong?” the Gardener asked. “All you have to do is be a rose.”

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