Survivors, descendants and others on an annual pilgrimage last Saturday to the Amache National Historic Site near Granada, CO, were in for a big surprise. They were greeted by a pink rosebud on a bush that had not bloomed in 80 years!
The US government unjustly incarcerated more than 10,000 Japanese Americans at Amache, during World War II. It is believed the rose bush was planted by someone held there.
According to Colorado Public Radio, where I heard the story, Archaeologist Bonnie Clark was the first to spot the bud. Soon after, Clark emailed a photo of it to Amache survivor Carlene Tanagoshi Tinker of Fresno, California. She was three years old when she and her parents were sent to the camp and held for three years.
“If you believe in miracles, this is a miracle,” Tanagoshi Tinker said. “These witness roses are saying ‘welcome home pilgrims.’”
The surprise rose is not only a miracle, but a reminder to me that even when faced with great hardship it is possible to reach the love that is also present. One way we can do this is to seek beauty, or as was the case with the prisoners, create it ourselves.
The rosebud was a sign, and signs and synchronicities abound. They show up to point us toward an understanding of something greater than ourselves. Our job is to notice them. This is especially important as we continue to witness the human capability to hate and the horrifying results of that hatred. We cannot close our eyes to it. Yet we also must keep our eyes—and all our senses—open to the signs of love. We owe it not only to ourselves but also to those who come after us.
Through the study of epigenetics, we are now learning that we carry genetic markers of our ancestors’ trauma. This means you and I may be experiencing the results of trauma that our grandparents and even great grandparents lived through, even if we never knew them. And if we carry our ancestors’ emotional pain in our bodies, could we not also be carrying their joy? Is it possible to also leave a legacy of love? So far, this is not known. But that’s certainly what I hope to pass on to my children and grandchildren.
Nature teaches us how beauty co-exists with brutality. After a spring snowstorm over the weekend, I took a hike. I noticed how the storm had stripped a juniper bush of its berries. They were heaped in a gorgeous pile of icy violet on the ground wafting their fresh, spicy aroma as I passed. I saw verdant green saplings sprouting out of the snow near burn-scarred tree stumps. A brilliant blue robin’s egg lay cracked on the ground below a tree. Did the baby bird survive? I’ll never know. A solitary bright red ladybug rested in the middle of the trail–a talisman of luck. There are signs of love and beauty everywhere in nature, even amidst destruction. I only have to go outside and pay attention.
And even when I don’t get outside, I can observe things like the eager look on my dog’s face when he is waiting for me to set his food bowl down, the pungent scent of fresh rosemary picked from the bush in my greenhouse, the free feeling in my body when I dance to a favorite song. Like the rosebud, tiny pops of beauty are everywhere, even while the news is reporting yet another awful tragedy. The more grateful I am, the more I tend to notice these blessings.
I’ve been working lately with a mantra of sorts from spiritual teacher and author Kyle Gray. It goes like this: “I am the keeper of my mind and body. Wherever love is present, fear is a stranger. And love is present in me.” I say this to myself when I wake, several times throughout my day and again when I go to bed at night. It reminds me that I get to choose to focus my mind and fill my body with high vibration energy, even when I’m heavy-hearted. When I do so, I’m choosing love over fear. Just like those Japanese American victims of hatred did when they decided to plant rose bushes.
Who knew the energy of their love would live on to sprout up unexpectedly in a flower some 80 years later? Maybe it’s alive in their descendants. Or maybe it’s simply a sign for someone who really needs one.