Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Rosa Damascena

Rosa Damascena in all its common beauty

Rosa Damascena is the name of a specific breed of rose that is very popular in certain parts of Bulgaria.  It grows on a big bush, and is small and rather unimpressive compared to other roses.  You are not likely to see it in flower shops because it is just not that good looking, yet all of our lives would be dramatically different without this rose.

Rosa Damascena is harvested in Bulgaria like corn is harvested in Iowa.  It is the best rose in the world for the production of rose oil.  After being harvested, the rose pedals are put through a complex process to extract as much oil as possible from every blossom.

This rose oil is then shipped around the world for use in most perfumes, colognes, and soaps.  Without rose oil, the world would smell a lot worse, and about 80 percent of the world’s rose oil comes from this homely looking blossom found in the heart of Bulgaria.

If you are like me, you may occasionally look at your life and wonder if anything good can come from you.  You may think of yourself as just an average person without much to contribute.  You may see value in yourself, but it is the everyday ordinary kind of value.  If you were a flower, perhaps you would think you were a very plain looking flower like Rosa Damascena.

Yet if an ugly rose like this can be used to change the world, surely you can be too.

Think of the people who have had the most impact on your life.  If you are like me, most of them are relatively unknown.  Looking at my life, I can't say that it has been greatly transformed by any famous person, powerful politician, or great speaker of our time nearly as much has it has been transformed by the people closest around me.  These plain ordinary people have made a great impact on my life, and their legacy will live on in me even after they are gone.

I doubt that I will ever be known as a great man.  I am not a beautiful rose that will sit as a centerpiece in some great palace.  I am a common rose like Rosa Damascena.  And I am ever so grateful that God has made me common.  For it is the common people of the world that make the greatest impact on it.

"But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him."  -Paul (I Corinthians 1:27-29)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Keeping Humble

My car, my phone, and Sasha’s food processor all had something in common:  they all needed to be brought in for repairs yesterday.  This gave Sasha and me a chance to take a nice long walk.

It didn’t start with a walk.  It started with a six-block drive to the mechanic.  I had been dreading this drive ever since I discovered that our car was making a lot of noise two days earlier.  I started up the engine and the entire neighborhood shook as if a massive thunderstorm had just rolled in overhead.  The earth trembled on its foundations, and men and women ran for the mountain hoping to seek refuge in caves.

Needless to say, Sasha and I were utterly mortified.  We considered driving down a one-way street to get to the mechanic a little faster, but we decided to go for safety over speed.

When we pulled up to the shop Nick the mechanic was waiting for us.  Apparently he heard a business opportunity coming blocks away.  Nick and I are on a first name basis.  He’s a friendly guy who always greets me with a smile.  Most mechanics are friendly people in Bulgaria.  Nick is a cut above which is pleasant for me as I am the owner of a 15 year-old car and have to spend a good amount of time at his garage.

Nick knew right away what the problem was, and said he would get to it the following day.

Now that we were without a car, Sasha and I had to walk to the local mall.  It’s an easy 10-minute walk down hill from Nick’s to Park Center Mall located on the edge of Sofia’s Yujen Park (South Park).  There we went to the Telenor shop to have my phone looked at.  We explained to them that the phone was not starting up when we pressed the power button.  We took it out to demonstrate and it started right up.  We thanked the lady for her amazing repair job and outstanding service and walked out amid the smiles and chuckles of the Telenor employees.

This is where our walk got interesting.  We had to make our way through the west side of Lozenets.  (Lozenets is the name of our part of town.)  West Lozenets is very different than East Lozenets where we live.  West Lozenets is a maze of narrow streets going up and down the steep slopes of the neighborhood.  It is a place that works your leg muscles in ways you never thought possible.  It was into this labyrinthine place that we began our quest for the appliance repair store.

After burning several hundred calories, we found the place.  We showed the lady the part we needed replaced, and she told us she would be more than happy to order it.  All we needed was the REF number off of the bottom of the machine.  We left the bottom of the machine at home, so no part was ordered.  On the bright side though, at least we know where to go now.

On the way home, Sasha gave me an amazing lesson in Bulgarian grammar.  One of the great things about being married to a Bulgarian is that you get free language instructions.  Sasha has been patiently putting up with my many errors for years now.

We made our way back up the hill to the safety and security of East Lozenets and our home.  We were several pounds lighter and eagerly awaiting the day when our car would be working again.

Repairing things is one of the aspects of life in a second-language that keep me humble.  Everything takes a bit more effort in Bulgarian, even when you have a native speaker standing right there with you.  Yet it's part of the adventure living in another country.

I love it!