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There has been a Rose of Sharon at the corner of the flower garden outside our kitchen window for as long as I can remember. Being the black thumb failed gardener that I am, I never knew what it was until our landlord-housemates told us this summer.

‘It’s never bloomed,’ they told me. ‘The conditions have to be just right for it.’

Every year that we’ve have lived here, it’s been the flowerless place where birds wait their turn for the feeders, where chipmunks hide from hawks and neighborhood cats, and where hummingbirds and butterflies stop with curiosity before moving on to other parts of the yard. Its slightly darker green leaves have fanned themselves in the sun and wind along with every other living creature in the yard, plant and animal alike. I’ve enjoyed many moments gazing upon it, wondering when, or if, it would ever bloom.

Finally, this summer, dozens of tiny, tight, pink buds appeared at the ends of its many branches – an embodiment of hope and promise. It was so exciting!

And every morning, I would check to see if any had opened – and each day, with a sigh, I’d notice that none had not. And each time, I would notice a contraction in myself – the disappointment that comes with clinging to the idea of being rewarded with beauty after a long period of both doubt and curiosity.

So, I decided to stop looking one day, and thought, Well, one of these days, the buds will either open or they won’t.

And then just the other day, I happened to look, when I went out to check on our spider neighbor, and there it was – an opened bud. A much brighter pink color than I would have imagined, and somehow smaller, too. I immediately took the photo and texted it to everyone else in the house: One of the blooms opened!!

And then, standing there in the yard, I began softly singing to myself a familiar melody from the UU hymnal, composed by Mary Grigolia:

I know this rose will open
I know my fear will burn away
I know my soul will unfurl its wings
I know this rose will open

Since then, all the other buds have remained tightly closed, which makes the open one so much sweeter.

The conditions, after all, have to be just right for it.