Grace is the bud of a rose in late summer risking the security of self to burst forth as a blossom that cannot close again.
…and the day came
when the risk to remain tight,
in a bud,
became more painful
than the risk it took to blossom.
This line has been appearing for around 35 years on journal covers, inside greeting cards, on opening pages of published books and, of course, on the Internet.
The only attribution I had seen was to Anaïs Nin who did not, it seems, write these words. There is a tangential reference to a bud in one of her novels but these words do not seem to appear in any of Nin’s work.
As much maligned as Internet resources are, this misattribution precedes the pervasive use of the worldwide web. I had to reach way back into my memory but I remembered first seeing the quote in the mid 1980s. This time, my memory was accurate.
It seems Elizabeth Appell wrote these words in 1979 when she was known as Lassie Benton, Public Relations Director at John F. Kennedy University (Orinda, CA) and editor of its adult education brochure.
Appell maintains she was “on deadline” when she scribbled those twenty plus words for the opening page of the brochure, perhaps determining their destiny to appear on other opening pages.
As editor, Appell would have not provided any personal attribution. In the ensuing years, the single line would also be offered as a poem with the title “Risk.” Yet, life and truth have a way of revealing their sources, ultimately.
In 2009, the Anaïs Nin Blog received an inquiry about the risk line’s source but it was not until 2013 that Appell decided to offer her story as well as provide a copy of the brochure page that first featured the line.
Appell revealed that she has known of the confusion as far back as the 1980s having read her words in a greeting card. She wrote to the card’s publisher who never responded.
There does seem to be one instance of the poem attributed to Appell as Lassie Benton as well as some anonymous attributions but mostly, the poem is attributed to Anaïs Nin.
It was only when two of Appell’s friends brought her their published books with the quotation attributed to Nin that Appell decided to correct years of misattribution.
And she did so with the grace of the line she wrote. Honored that her hastily scribbled words to meet a deadline have meant much to many, Appell may have taken another risk in her response to a comment on the Anaïs Nin Blog:
I have been writing for a long time. Every now and then I hit a chord, but never like the chord I hit with the “Risk” line. To be in the literary circle of Anaïs Nin is a thrill. I’m proud and grateful.
To me, this story of grace in a line of risk demonstrates the lifetime that unfolds in each moment we experience. Rarely can we know the impact of the series of snapshots that are the moments of our lives. Yet, some snapshots will return revealing their source.
May we have the grace of Elizabeth Appell in the face of risk and blossom.