Monday, June 13, 2011

Only Goodness Gives Extras: Sherlock Holmes Is Transported by a Rose

In the rectory garden at St. Margaret Mary Church in Oakland

Last night, I was watching one of the Sherlock Holmes mystery shows from the 1980s that star the marvelous actor Jeremy Brett. To my surprise, right in the middle of investigating a case in a country house drawing room, the Sherlock Holmes character became entralled by a rose, and began for a few minutes to talk about religion (of all things!) and to ponder the generosity of Providence. Unexpected, to say the least.

In this scene, Sherlock Holmes, as written by Arthur Conan Doyle, showed a fine appreciation of how God's creation of flowers gives a clue that God's care for us goes beyond merely providing for our necessities.

Following is a description of the scene as I saw it, with quotes from the book.

Holmes's gaze was caught by the sight of a red rose in a vase. He picked the rose up, focused his intense attention on it, and exclaimed in a reverent tone, "'What a lovely thing a rose is.'"

"He walked past the couch to the open window and held up the drooping stalk of a moss-rose, looking down at the dainty blend of crimson and green. It was a new phase of his character to me, for I had never before seen him show any keen interest in natural objects."

"'There is nothing in which deduction is so necessary as in religion,'" said he, leaning with his back against the shutters. "'It can be built up as an exact science by the reasoner. Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance.

"But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its color are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.'"
Sherlock Holmes, in "The Adventure of the Naval Treaty"

I found the above quote at Quotes from Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.

And this You Tube clip shows the scene from the show, which omits some of the lines I quoted above from the book.

That passage struck me of course. Similarly, when I see flowers, I love their beauty so much that I glimpse God's beauty. It is a kind of shorthand for me to say it this way, that when I look at a rose I invariably feel that I am looking at the face of God.


When I was photographing these roses, a woman who hangs around St. Margaret Mary Church in Oakland stuck a Holy Card in the frame
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