Footnotes to "The Gardener's Roses"
by Michael R. Burch
This poem was written under somewhat unusual circumstances. On the morning of May 14, 2004, as I showered, a verse from a song I had not heard in decades began to repeat itself: "I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses." After showering, I decided to write a poem about the love of Jesus for his friends. I had been thinking about the fact that according to the Bible, Jesus seemingly waited beside the grave when He could have ascended immediately to see his Father. How much did Jesus love his mother, Mary Magdalene and the others, if this is the case? I imagined myself waiting outside His grave the morning of the resurrection. The original poem had nothing in it about roses. However, despite a nose that make it difficult for me to smell anything, particularly "congested mornings," I began to detect a fragrance reminiscent of flowers, and the line from the song came to mind again. Then the thought occurred to me: why did Mary mistake Jesus for the gardener? Could He have been tending or gathering flowers? If so, for whom?
In the first stanza, the first three lines refer to Plato’s cave and the idea that the things we see in this life are but shadows of the "real world."
Unlike his mentor Socrates, Plato was both a writer and a teacher. His writings are in the form of dialogues, with Socrates as the principal speaker. In the Allegory of the Cave, Plato described symbolically the predicament in which mankind finds itself and proposes a way of salvation. The Allegory presents, in brief form, most of Plato's major philosophical assumptions: his belief that the world revealed by our senses is not the real world but only a poor copy of it, and that the real world can only be apprehended intellectually; his idea that knowledge cannot be transferred from teacher to student, but rather that education consists in directing student's minds toward what is real and important and allowing them to apprehend it for themselves; his faith that the universe ultimately is good; his conviction that enlightened individuals have an obligation to the rest of society, and that a good society must be one in which the truly wise (the Philosopher-King) are the rulers. – The History Guide, Steven Kreis
ghostly paradigms of things . . . This phrase is borrowed from W. B. Yeats, who seemed not all that satisfied with Plato’s explanation of what we see and perceive. The unseen or half-glimpsed forms seen within the cave from afar include the burial cloths.
pale tendrils spreading east . . . The tendrils are meant to be either the tendrils of roses spreading toward the sun, or rose- and pale-colored rays of the dawn that come from the east, but just as easily can be seen to spread from the other direction, back to the sun.
by far the least. / The women take no note of me . . . In Biblical times, women were not considered equal to men, and so for women to "take no note" of a man would be an indication that he was of little note.
these unfamiliar skies . . . This is, in a sense, a trip back in time
to ancient Palestine. So the landscape and the very skies are unfamiliar,
If you're interested in "things mysterious," you may be interested in these other Mysterious Ways pages:
A Direct Experience with Universal Love
Two Tales of the Night Sky
Michael, Wonderful and Glorious
The Poisonous Tomato
Of Mother Teresa, Angels and the Poorest of the Poor
Thy Will Be Done (Iron Lung)
Did Jesus Walk on the Water?
Mysterious Ways Index