A Simple Flower Story
“Never let the sun set on your anger.” Even though the friend who offered this piece of wisdom at our wedding wasn’t married (he was a priest) I took it as good advice. We were in our first year of marriage and the sun was indeed setting on our anger. When it rose the next morning it still found us angry. The triggering event has been long forgotten but the rest of the story is still crystal clear in my memory.
My wife stayed in bed that morning as I dressed and left for work. All the way to work I rehearsed the canon I would deliver to her when I returned home that evening. All through my workday I sharpened, honed and perfected it. Each stroke of the whetstone made it more and more certain that my return home would bring her the relief she sought; relief that I had shown her the errors of her thinking and the wisdom of mine. There was never a question of which one was right. Of course it was me, and in her heart she knew it. I even pictured her anticipating my return with my clarification that would melt the barriers and return us to that place of loving.
Driving home I was putting the final touches on my biblical presentation when I passed a flower shop I had frequented in happier days. Our courtship had included my discovery that a single rose (they were 50 cents back then!) pleased her greatly. A glance at the shop reminded me of happier days, and of course my pattern had been to get the rose when I was happy about her and about us. So I drove on by. And then I stopped. I simply wondered what it would be like to do it when I wasn’t happy about her. It’s a no-brainer from today’s vantage point but back then, almost fifty years ago, it was unknown territory for me.
So I paid my 4 bits and drove the last half mile home. I approached our front door rehearsing for the last time my wisdom speech. All the pieces were in place. I walked in actually forgetting my flower and ready to enlighten her. When she saw the rose she came to me, wrapped her arms around me, and held me. It was probably the clearest moment of my life. THIS is what I wanted. And I didn’t even know it. I actually believed that I wanted to be RIGHT. What a fool. But…..a wiser fool.
Years later I understood perfectly when I heard the saying, “You can be right or you can be happy, but probably not both!”.