The Flower and the Thorn

2 11 2011

Part I

“Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.” James 1:17

Ah, yes, Lord. Every good thing. Every perfect gift. I know what those look like.

She threw her best dress to the floor in a flurry of firework red
Standing there bony and naked she looked unabashed
like a painfully honest question

As I was saying, Lord, give us this day . . .

Her limbs brittle and bruised, overused
She dared me to find the frail beauty in her darkened complexion
Posing, with arms uplifted, her bitter proposition
She forced me to listen

. . . our daily bread?


Part II

My songbird has flown to the wind, she sighed
And every time the wind blows I throw another piece of myself to it
Now all that’s left of me are bones and skin
So I want you to tell me

Is beauty always a flower or can it sometimes be the thorn?
I’ve got to know
Because by Spring I’ll have forgotten what it’s like to be dead and alone

Beauty is a flower.

“There was given me a thorn in the flesh . . . “

No! Give us this day every good thing. Not a thorn. Please. Not suffering.

“My grace is sufficient for you.”

But don’t You want me to be happy?

I want you to be whole.


Part III

Standing in silence I saw for the first time the Secret
That I am as naked as she and as dead and as empty
But Spring’s promise waits for me as well
And before it’s been given I need you to tell me
Is beauty always a flower or can it sometimes be the thorn?
I’ve got to know
I’ve got to know what it’s like to be dead and alone

I entreated,
entreated the Lord.

The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places.
Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.
Not my will.

But thine.


Part IV

God has given her many good gifts. Music and art. Wisdom and curiosity. Faith and laughter. The love of a wonderful man. She has a brilliant mind, true friends, and the respect of her elders and peers. And last week doctors confirmed she has rheumatoid arthritis.

He gave her the poem embedded in this post last November.

Before she knew.


Part V

Is beauty always a flower, or can it sometimes be the thorn?

I’ve got to know
the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow
Yesterday, today, and forever
There is no fear in love

“And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well”

My grace is sufficient for
My Grace.

Thanks be to God.


(Edited and reposted from The Master’s Artist archives, August, 2006.)

Practicing faith in community:



8 responses

2 11 2011
Patricia (Pollywog Creek)

Powerful and beautiful, and I see beauty every day in the thorn that is called RA. Just yesterday I read through tears, Oswald Chambers: “If God can accomplish HIs purposes in this world through a broken heart, then why not thank Him for breaking yours.”

You must be incredibly proud of that Grace girl of yours. What a gift.

Much love,

4 11 2011

I love that OC quote. There is much power released when faith rises in the midst of pain and weakness. Praying for you, sweet, radiant friend, that you will know how you shine.

You, too, are the gift.

Love, Jeanne

2 11 2011
Lynn Mosher

Touching. Pulling at my heart strings. Singing with beauty. Bless you!

3 11 2011
Denise J. Hughes

So many gifts. Yet, to count RA as one of them is so hard. This is the practicing of a real and deep abiding faith.

Such beautiful words.

3 11 2011
roseann elliott

Oh…so beautiful…so much there…I know beauty and thorns…I lived many years with lupus…twila paris has this song…. it was my anthem…
Blessings as you find the Grace that is sufficient….

4 11 2011

Beautiful words! Thank you so much for sharing the lyrics, Roseann. And I think Him for granting you relief from lupus. Whether He gives or takes away, He is always good.

3 11 2011

I hear your disappointment in her news, and I’m sorry for the grief. For me, a lupus diagnosis was almost a relief because it answered so many questions and vindicated me, in a sense, after previous doctors wrote me off. The grief came before and after more than with.

God can and will use this for good, even when “good” is thorns and scars, the imprint of our suffering Savior. May He come alongside and make His presence very near and sweet to your Grace. And to you.

4 11 2011

Thank you, friend. Like you said, it is a relief to get answers when the body fails to function properly, but it is a journey (and a mercy) to learn God’s goodness in suffering. We do see His hand in all these things and give Him thanks.

Love to you.

Your comments are a gift. Please know I read each one with gratitude.

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