Gather the Roses


“Go up to the mountain top and gather the roses there.”

Little Juan Diego was worried and sad as he traveled the desolate and rough terrain by foot. He needed to make haste because his uncle, whom he loved devotedly, lay dying, without the comfort of a priest to absolve him of all his sins. Yet, as Juan ran along the  path, Our Lady suddenly appeared. She stopped him, interrupting his urgent errand with a request. What was he to do? He had purposely avoided her, going around the mountain a different way, not because he intended any disrespect but because he was sick with sorrow and had no time for anything else just then.

Wasn’t death coming quickly, and didn’t he need to rush on his way? Still there she stood – and what did she say to him?

“Go up to the mountain top and gather the roses there.”

Thinking about these words, my heart was stirred. Wasn’t this what she was saying to me today? I am in a hurry – I am running along the path so that I can do what I need to do; but then, there she is raising her hand to stop me.

Does she not see that my heart is about to break, that my burden is so heavy, it is all I can do to keep back the sobs? What is this new thing she wants me to do?  I already did what she requested earlier and I failed miserably! Yet, I cannot ignore her gentle voice; she loves me and she wants me to trust her completely.

What are these roses she wants me to gather? They are the sign of hope amidst the desolation of winter. They shouldn’t be growing here in this godforsaken place, but there they are, bright and proud in their Castilian beauty, their blood red, a stark contrast against a cold, bleak backdrop.

If I gather them to myself, what will happen? She is inclining her head, carefully arranging their buds with motherly solicitation. My mother. She loves me tenderly and wants me to take comfort; these roses are her pledge that she will remain forever imprinted on my soul, just as her image will always be imprinted on Juan’s tilma.

Oh Lady of Guadalupe, your words overwhelm me and bring me solace.

“Listen and let it penetrate your heart, my dear little (one), let nothing discourage you, nothing depress you. Let nothing alter your heart or your countenance. Am I not here who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection?”


Written by Marie Thibodeau on December 12, 2011 on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Image of the Roses by Heidi Bratton Photography 2013