These are days when I have especially appreciated two reflections on peace.
The first is from a book about flowers:
“Wars and roses have a long relationship. The English civil wars, waged from 1455-1485, over possession of the crown, were called the Wars of the Roses. The name came from the badges of the house of Lancaster (a red rose) and the house of York (a white rose). Battles were long, bloody and bitter, fought over a series of weakened monarchs until Henry VII married Edward IV’s daughter Elizabeth in 1486, thereby uniting the two adversarial houses.
But roses have a sweeter connection with war as well. In 1939, as war threatened Western Europe, a French hybridist named Francis Meilland discovered something quite special in his nursery, a breathtakingly beautiful rose, growing from a single seed and unlike anything he’d ever grown before. Meilland had no time for further discovery or experimentation so he shipped unnamed and untested cuttings … to friendly growers, hoping at least one cutting would survive. The cuttings destined for Robert Pyle, a grower in Pennsylvania, went out in November 1940 on the last plane from France before Nazis took control of the airports.
Four years later, Pyle wrote to Meilland about a “glorious rose, its pale gold, cream and ivory petals blended to a lightly ruffled edge of delicate carmine.” This was news Meilland had hoped for – a cutting of his splendid rose had survived. The pale gold beauty was named ‘Peace’ in a ceremony on the day Berlin fell. Rose lovers from around the world gathered in California to hear the new name and watch as doves were set free in celebration.”
The second reflection on peace is by Wendell Berry, The Peace of Wild Things:
“When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”
May we all find some rest in the peace of beauty.
* * * * *
The book is ON FLOWERS by Kathryn Kleinman and Sara Slavin, Chronicle Books, 1992.
Wendell Berry is a celebrated author, environmental activist, and farmer.
He is the author of many novels, short stories, and essays, as well as wonderful poetry.