Pongan Rosas, by John Grindey

Cautiously walking into the Jesuit Garden, I was numb. Numb to my feelings and numb to my experiences. Prior to walking into the garden, we were faced with the gruesome and atrocious reality of the murder of the six Jesuit priests and two women.

Having been forced to look through photo albums which illuminated this reality, my classmates and I were bewildered by the barbaric nature of what happened on the 16th of November in 1989.

Now, in the garden, I began to observe my surroundings. I began to attentively make notice of how I was feeling. Having been instructed to separate and sit down somewhere in the garden, I chose to sit next to the door which housed the six Jesuit priests. In the light of Saint Ignatius, I allowed my imagination to command my time of reflection. I was imagining what the scene must have looked like as it was unfolding. I then began to tremble. Having my eyes closed, the chilling reality of the events that took place here truly made me quiver in fear.


In the silence which loomed on the surface of this place, I was left empty. Empty to my feelings and empty to my emotions. I authentically desired to experience a physical response to the sadness and heartache which this place and event holds. However, the roses. I saw the roses. Instantly I was brought back to the Garden of Innocence at El Mozote. This garden was the place where around 150 innocent children were tragically murdered. In this garden, there was a single rose. As I exited this place, I told myself to keep the memory of that rose in mind. Now, back to the Jesuit Garden, I saw many roses. I naturally compared these to the one rose at El Mozote.

In a concrete observation, the roses in this garden were all facing down. Only a few of them were upright, rather the roses were almost drooping. Not knowing what to do with this, I again let my imagination take over. This imagination was not one of stories and anecdotes, but more of reimagining. I saw everyone began to line up around the garden for a prayer and I was still sitting. Seeing my classmates, my brothers, walking all in a line, the roses all of a sudden came to me. I am the rose. We are the roses. I began to encourage myself to think beyond the idea of “planting roses” as a metaphor for action, rather reimagine myself as the rose. In this realization, I began to categorize it into two main factors: what is a rose and what does it mean to be a rose? In the context of El Salvador and based on my experience with the trip, the rose represents hope. I, we, are hope. In the communities of Junquillo and La Hacienda, Mr. Broyles approached the scholarship students and made it clear to them that they are the hope for the future.

These parents want their kids to attend school in hope that they will create a new and better society in El Salvador. Again, they are reimagining a new and better world through their kids. Now, examining the question of what it means to be a rose, I want to relate this to my own life.

Hope in this world can be manifested in many different ways and is often characterized with people who are “agents of change” and people who make drastic changes in the world. However, again I am reimagining how one can effectively manifest hope in their life. I am brought to my own home. In contemplating how I can create hope, I engage in a simple reflection. How can I be a better son, brother, friend, boyfriend, cousin, and student?

How can I continue to live my life more virtuously and have it aimed at not necessarily being the most successful and make the most money, but rather how can I be more like a saint? How can I live like Jesus? In summary, gazing onto the roses at the Jesuit Garden, I was inspired to be the rose. I encourage us to be the rose which pollinates a world which is fundamentally broken. In our re-imagination, we learn what the rose really represents: hope.

We are the roses.

8 thoughts on “Pongan Rosas, by John Grindey

  1. “We are the roses. We are hope.” Profound reflection, John, and I thank you for taking the time to share it with us!

  2. John —

    What a poignant reflection — so full of the hope that you exude in a daily basis. I’m so glad you are able to have this experience and find/be the roses.

    Susan Maynard

  3. John, you’ve discerned well…you’ve chosen discipleship instead of despair.
    And, you’ve articulated the powerful irony that “rose” is both a noun and a verb. You are a rose. Jesus rose from the dead. The two are connected by your experience in the Garden.
    Peace be always with you.

  4. John what a beautiful reflection. You definitely are a rose in my life, your dads life, your brothers lives, and in the lives of your friends, teammates, and extended family. Enjoy the remaining time in El Salvador. God Bless You. Mom

  5. John,
    This reflection is superb. Words cannot quite capture my gratitude for your writing here. As someone who has continually stressed the importance of the phrase “pongan rosas” within Christian praxis, your ability to succinctly identify its significance through anecdotal imagination supersedes any academic conjecture that I could write about. My prayers are with you and the rest of the gang in these final days ahead. Looking forward to seeing you around campus next year in your final year and (arguably) the ‘apex’ of your Brophy experience.

    All the Best,

  6. Seems like it’s a trip of reimagining for you, John. Thanks for the reflection.

  7. So beautiful, John. The final sentences of your post will stay with me for a very long time. Thank you for this.

  8. John, this is fantastic. I never thought of roses this way. By your example, you are a model of hope to those you lead and enjoy your presence. I am proud of you, my friend.

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