The sun had just risen up and its radiant rays scattered sunbeams on the window pane of Danielle’s bedroom. But the promise of a good day did not even offer a slight change in the gloomy mood of the room, more so to Danielle, who was still lying on her bed, face drawn, eyes worn out from overnight crying. “I’m miserable…” Danielle thought of herself.
Anyone who meets Danielle for the first time would never think that’s the way she thinks about her life. Matter of fact is, she is way better than most people are. She has her own bank account, drive her own car, lives in an enormous roof over her head, and can have all the things which money can buy. But, Danielle dreads waking up every morning and degrades herself as she mutters to herself, “No one would want me.”
She is never thankful for what she has. Her relationship with her parents was growing worse. She has become rebellious and does all kinds of shameful things – smoking, drinking, and partying all night. She dropped out of college and the thought of going back to school never occurs in her mind.
Danielle is aware of everything. She knows that she badly treats the people around her. She knows she is making herself a mess. She knows she intends to drive away people who tries to care for her. Sometimes, when she gets tired of her indiscretions, she thinks of a change. But then, she reasons out that her past will always come to haunt her down. So she continues to put up walls and never shows caring about the world.
Just when everything seemed impossible, and just when hope is wearing thin for Danielle to change, a flicker of light dawned on Danielle. On that one fateful day, on that one friendly encounter with an extraordinary man in a throng of strangers, while walking aimlessly in that old street, Danielle found the reason to change. The change came to everyone who knows her as a shock. Danielle gathers her acts together, picks up all the pieces, and gradually makes all things right. She finally started weaving her dreams and ambitions, she finally learns to be humble, and she finally gives her love and care.
And who would have thought that all of these changes were brought about by a wilted rose from the hand of a lame man in shabby clothes, sitting in the streets of Melrose Avenue?
Danielle was walking along the busy streets of Melrose Avenue while yelling at her mother on the phone. When the conversation ended, she thrust her phone hard in her purse, and looked around. Her eyes caught a man sitting on the side of the street while holding up a sign that says, “Jesus Loves You.”
The man was no ordinary mendicant in the street. His legs were amputated. His hair long and tangled, as it has never been combed in years. He looked old, perhaps, in his 60s, because of the wrinkles in his face and the unshaven beard that extends to his neck. He was sitting on a brown cardboard with a small tin can placed right in front of him, waiting for passersby to spare him an extra penny. Curiosity drew her to the old man, and she found herself walking towards him and asked him, “What if I told you that Jesus doesn’t love me?” The man looked up at her, smiled and muttered, “That’s impossible! He died on the cross for you.” Danielle rolled her eyes and in a very stubborn voice she answered, “But He only loves those who barely sin! I’ve committed so many sins that it would take me a whole day for me to enumerate them.” The old man remained calm and said, “You apparently don’t know anything about Him.”
Frustration rose in Danielle’s face and mocked the rather serene old man saying, “And you do?” Then she started to walk away. When the man saw that she was heading a different direction, he took out two fresh white roses from his back and then asked Danielle loud, “Which rose would you choose?” Danielle’s attention was brought back to the man, turned around, and walked back towards him. “I want any of the two or even both,” Danielle answered simply, but a bit puzzled. The the old man took one of the roses, spat on it, smashed it with his can until the petals were bruised and wilted. Then he turned his gaze on her and asked, “Would you still want either or both of them?”
“Who would want a wilted rose?” she asked sarcastically and laughed. It took a moment for the lame man to answer her question. He looked intently at Danielle’s eyes, and said in a soft but audible voice, “Jesus would. And no matter how much you’ve sinned, or how much people spit on you, or smash you, Jesus will still want you.” That was the first time Danielle ever felt goosebumps all over her body. She felt a tear run down her cheeks. The words of the old man struck her very being but in a good way.
It was late before she realized that she was weeping silently, her knees weakening, and her hands holding on the shoulder of the old man for support. People who passed by showed faces of curiosity and questioning look at the unlikely pair, but she could not care less. After a few minutes, she finally gathered her composure, wiped her tears, took out her wallet, and pulled out some bills and handed them to the man. The old man simply smiled and thanked her. And it was then that the most genuine smile curved her lips, and she whispered softly to the man, “No, it’s me who should say thank you.”