Most of us are drawn to the beauty and scent of roses – as I have said before, they have almost a spiritual quality to them. All of nature does, really, but because the scent of a rose is reputed to open closed hearts, they are almost irresistible. I am going to plant some shrub roses this year that were introduced in 1892 and have a rich rose fragrance. I can hardly wait!
The special qualities of a rose would still be there if it had another name, or even if it had no name at all. As much as I love words, I have to admit that sometimes words, names, and labels can get in the way of understanding and appreciating the essence of a thing (or a person).
We can slap a label on something or someone, and that’s the end of it – no thinking or dialogue necessary. It seems like an arrogant thing to do, but it comes from a place of fear, I believe – a fear that if we look beyond the label, we may have to examine our assumptions and open ourselves up a little bit.
I remember carrying around my children when they were babies and teaching them the names of things like bird, tree, car, etc. Of course, this was important so they could learn to talk, but now I wonder how much that took away their wonder and delight at seeing a beautiful, feathered creature that could lift itself off the ground and move through the air!
After they learned the name, did they stop really seeing the bird, just think to themselves “bird”, and move on to the next thing? I don’t know the answer to that, and some people might think it a pointless or ridiculous question, but it isn’t pointless to think about the results of labeling someone “conservative” or “liberal” (even if their ideas lean in that direction), “idiot”, “a replaceable means to an end”, “worthless”, “enemy”, “lazy”, “naughty”, etc. etc., and then closing ourselves off from them because of that label.
Just as a rose has an inherent beauty and lovely fragrance, whether it is called a “rose” or a “skunkweed”, every person came into the world with a soul, an inherent worth that the creator put into all. Fear can cause us to pile on the junk to cover up and “protect” our real selves, but instead of protecting our souls, that fear imprisons us and hides our beauty.
Let’s put away our labels and judgements whenever we can and acknowledge that there is something there worth seeing if we can see with our hearts instead of our egos. Practice really seeing someone who annoys you or someone you really hate to be around. Maybe if they can feel safe and accepted by someone, they can drop some of the junk they use to promote or protect themselves and let their real beauty come through. You don’t have to be their best friend; just silently acknowledge their worth, drop your annoyance or anger, and just be there for a minute or two.
Small things can make a big difference, especially when done consistently, and it isn’t just the other person who changes when they are seen as someone of value; we are also changed in the process.