The Deer And The Rosebush: A Parable

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin

My friend loves roses. She sometimes even sees them as a divine sign that prayers have been answered, courtesy of St. Therese. My friend has a beautiful little rosebush in her yard that she cares for with affection. Recently the buds were full and the rosebush about to blossom, so you can imagine her disappointment when, early one morning, she ventured outside expecting to see flowering roses, only to find them all gone, snipped off by hungry deer.
It was a sad moment for my friend. I can’t repeat what she said, but suffice it to say that she likes roses a whole lot more than she likes deer.
This little domestic incident can serve as a parable with a few good lessons.
The first lesson is that when something bad comes our way, we need to keep it in perspective. The loss of some rose buds was irritating, but on a list of human catastrophes, it’s way down on the list of importance. Indeed, there are some real disasters in life: a serious illness, the unexpected death of a loved one, or a fire that damages our home, for example. But the loss of a few flowers isn’t one of them.
The second lesson is that sometimes the offenses we suffer are unintended. When the deer ate the budding roses, they didn’t know they were offending someone; they were just hungry. In the same way, when we’re offended by someone’s thoughtless words or deeds, perhaps we should give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they didn’t intend to harm us; maybe they didn’t even know we were upset. And remember that the law of unintended offenses is a two-way street. Have there been times we’ve accidentally harmed someone by something we’ve said or done?
And the third lesson is the value of starting over. The rosebush in my friend’s yard will bloom again, and soon there will be new roses (for the deer) to enjoy. In the same way, when we suffer some disappointment or setback, we shouldn’t stay down and wallow in self-pity. We need to summon a little courage, get up and start over, confident that better days await us. It’s called hope.
So the deer caused my friend a moment of sadness. But they taught us some lasting lessons. Thank you, deer.
Something to think about: When you’ve experienced some minor setbacks in your life, how have you dealt with them?


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