A Tale Of Peace, And The Roses Of Sharon...

Dear Lakewood Friends,

One hundred and fifty years ago this year, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published the poem "Christmas Bells," later to become the song, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day;" concerning whether there ever would be peace on Earth, in the face of such turmoil as the American Civil War. His son had been gravely wounded in that war, and he was suffering the passing of his dear wife. Through his trials, he was moved to write that famous song of hope in the midst of tragedy and despair.

Here in Lakewood, as with the West End debacle a decade ago, Lakewood citizens are once again pitted against each other in a sublime struggle over the future of our hospital. Now, as in the days of the Civil War, well-meaning people continue to rise to engage each other while laying aside the olive branches of peace. Still others in our community hope for a peaceful resolution soon for all of this.

Ordinarily, when I write these sorts of musings, they are either city or music related. This missive, on the other hand, relates to a faith-based experience that I had, just yesterday. Does a loving God continue to bring peace to us these days? I truly believe so, and yesterday brought just one more example of that for me. I was out by the garage yesterday morning, and over by the garage door, the Rose of Sharon bush was in full bloom.

The Rose of Sharon was my mom's (Betty Rice's) favorite bush, particularly because, like the dogwood, there are so many allegories connecting it with Christ. We had those bushes out by our camper in Brunswick, but one by one, over the years, they had died off after Mom's passing, back in 2004. Somehow though, and in some way, a Rose of Sharon bush decided to grow up right by my garage door here in Lakewood, and it has thrived. These come into full bloom right around the time of Mom's July 19th birthday.

Mom's passing over a decade ago was one of the hardest things I've ever gone through. For years afterwards my soul ached, although I was absorbed with caring for Dad. (Robert Rice) He lasted another ten years and they were good ones for both of us, but in January of this year, he too passed on. As an only child, it has been a challenge to keep the positive attitude and smile and willingness to help others that my parents insisted that I cultivate. I have certainly tried to do so, but there have still been moments...

Seeing that Rose of Sharon in full beautiful bloom yesterday was just too much for me. I broke down completely. When those sorts of triggers happen, I have always found prayer to be a great comfort, and such was the case then. Within a short while, I was back in the swing of things and off to lunch and groceries. Coming home, I spotted a yard sale in Cleveland. After bringing the frozen food home and putting it away, something told me to go back and peruse that sale.Yesterday being a Tuesday, yard sales are highly uncommon, and I almost did not go back.

Anyway, the seller and I got to talking about our hobbies, and the topic soon turned to music. They indeed had a banjo to sell, although it was in the house. Would I like to see it? He brought it out and told me that it needed a great deal of work and had been refused as a trade-in at the guitar store for that very reason. We opened the case. It was a no-name banjo, but was otherwise very nice; having multiple inlays.

I asked his price, paid it, and we quickly shook hands on a deal. It was only a half hour later, while in the process of repairing and setting up the instrument, that I had occasion to more closely inspect the floral inlays.

They were Roses of Sharon.

The banjo turned out fine, and more to the point, (and thanks be to God) so have I.

Peace on Earth? Truly it will eventually come to us on an individual level, and if history is any indicator of the future, eventually it will return here to Lakewood.

Especially if we all try and help to make it happen.

Back to the peace-making banjo...

Gary Rice

Strolling and strumming,

Singing and humming,

Nobody bumming,

All for the cause.

Lyrics: courtesy of my friend, Michael J. Luczak

Read More on Pulse of the City
Volume 11, Issue 17, Posted 5:56 PM, 08.04.2015