Archive for August 2012

The Secret of the Rose – Michael Phillips

August 20, 2012

What’s not to like?

A beautiful German family, a pair of American diplomats, and a mansion with hidden passages combine for good in the face of the chaos erupting in Europe that has since been called WWII.  But the lasting impressions I have from reading Michael Phillips’ “Secret of the Rose” series are as much spiritual as anything else.

Baron von Dortman and his family are kindred spirits, while I wish that their Frülingsgarten was more than an imagined picture in my mind’s eye.  Yet I know that the Baron himself would tell me that the mysteries of life grow in my own backyard as well, so all I’m really missing are the abundant roses.  Ahh, roses!  I’ve plenty enough German blood in my veins to appreciate roses the way Sabina von Dortman does, and I sympathized with her when the Baron says that the Secret of the Rose is something she’ll have to find out for herself.

The most striking passages of these four books, however, are not about the Dortmans, their friends, their home, or even their roses, but about God.  I found myself raising an amen many times as the Baron shared his vision of our mutual Heavenly Father.  Of course, as a friend to Deitrich Bonhoeffer, albeit fictional, I would expect the Baron to hold rather uncommon ideas.   Prepare to be challenged, encouraged, and blessed by your encounters with this saint.

Don’t let the size of these books intimidate you into putting off reading them, either.  Each volume is thick, but Phillips writes in a easy style, and while the spiritual content may require you to slow down and digest, the books are worth the effort.  A final warning: once you start reading these books, you won’t be able to stop.  The story is left only half told unless you read all four books, and each builds on the themes of the last.

So, what is the Secret of the Rose?

Ahh, that’s something you’ll have to discover for yourself!

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Climbing Tree

August 4, 2012

When we moved twelve years ago, Mom and Dad asked 3G, Sister, and me if we had any requests for the new house.  We were not old enough to be involved in the decision making, but they wanted the new home to be reflective of what we wanted to some extent.  After all, we were going to live there too!

The biggest thing on our wishlist was a climbing tree.  While our old house had three trees, none of them had low branches for climbing.  We had to go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house to climb their tree.  That was fun, but we hoped that we could have a tree of our own that could be climbed on a whim, not just the couple of times a year we went to visit the grandparents instead of them coming to see us.

When God finally led us to our new home, three happy campers were glad to see that the spacious front lawn was home to a beautiful tree – a very climbable maple!  If that tree had had paint on its branches, we would have worn it off the first summer, and we didn’t move in until July.  We loved climbing around, making up stories.  That tree was our ship, fort, and jungle gym all rolled into one.

Some of my favorite memories of the tree, however, are of the times during my mid-teens when I would wander out alone and climb to the top just for the view.  Everything looks a little different from the top of a tree.  Sometimes I would sit on a particular branch and look in one direction as I chewed over some internal issue.  At other times, I would stand on another branch and watch the cars go by on our road or the haying in the field across the way.  Whatever the case, that tree has plenty of memories.

I haven’t done much tree climbing in several years now.  Some of the branches are showing wear from five pairs of feet climbing in it.  New growth has filled in some of the places we used to climb in and out, while patches have taken some damage over the years.  Still, every once in a while, I get the urge for a higher perspective on the world, and I’ll swing up among the leaves and the breezes to see what I can see.


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