Saturday, May 10, 2008
I'm just a dandelion in the garden of Heaven
A few years ago, in May I was having a conversation with Our Lady and meditated upon the ideas presented by St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower. I determined that I will never be one of the great flowers in a bouquet, but rather, a dandelion. I am just a weed in the Garden of God, and here, I will fulfill my purpose.
On that particular day, I went to the Fatima Shrine at my parish, and I carried to the Blessed Mother a bouquet of dandelions...just like the ones I used to give my earthly Mother. And our dear Blessed Mother helped me to understand on that day that she, and the Lord, do not require great and beautiful gifts, just those given from the heart.
So I wrote this piece from my heart to yours, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
When I was a little girl, dandelions - yes, dandelions - were a constant source of joy in the spring and summer months. From the time those dots of yellow appeared, to when the last wisp of cotton drifted away, I saw them as a promise from God.
We used to pick the dandelions and offer them to our Mom in bouquets, sometimes mixed with violets, and occasionally other wild flowers. Always, always, she exclaimed how pretty they were and thanked us for the offering before placing them carefully in water. Throughout the summer a certain little green vase was never without a bright yellow dandelion.
We used to hold them up to our chins to see if the yellow reflected back, indicating that we liked butter. My brother and I would find the cottony dandelions gone to seed and blow the cotton into one another’s faces, then laughing, scramble to pick yet more to continue the fun.
I remember sitting in a field and blowing on the cotton to watch the seeds release into the wind, drifting away gently on currents of air not able to be seen. In looking back, it was an exploration of nature and an understanding of the elements that surrounded us every day.
As my Mom used to put it, the appearance of dandelions marked a “promise of summer” and I think it was more so for her than it was for us for we as children hadn’t yet learned to worry about the future, but we lived in each and every moment. It was as we grew older that we began to recognize the signs of the arrival of spring, principal among them being the spots of yellow peppering the highways and byways, growing along the fence and appearing in the center of the yard.
I always considered the dandelion to be a flower, and found it endlessly fascinating there growing among the wild honeysuckle. There it was, a flower surrounded by asymmetrical leaves and sometimes-prickly thistles. I never understood why so many people were in a constant battle to wipe them out.
Upon entering adulthood, I began to see the dandelions as everyone else, finally swayed by the world around me to look at things with their eyes rather than my own. I no longer saw in them a promise, but rather as an annoyance, a nasty little weed that crowded out the pretty, slender green grass. Sure, they had their plac - in the ditches and wild fields, where all wild and uncontrolled plants should live unhindered.
I guess one could say that I had gone from the simple innocence of childhood to the hard cynicism of adulthood. That afternoon in May, I had a sort of epiphany and realized that this little creation by God is a parable to which we should all take heed.
Consider those little yellow dots on your lawn. Now, for just a moment, focus and remove all of your preconceived notions about what that thing is and look at it from the eyes of a child. Do you see the simple beauty in the yellow, and the tiny, dainty petals so opened to receive the sun and nourishment it needs? Do you notice that no matter what you do to cut it down, that little plant returns again and again, joyfully and audactiously soaking up the sun as though it actually belongs there?
Do you think that even for a moment you can see that beauty I used to see and am learning to see again? Can you appreciate the gift of that little flower, given sincerely by a child to a parent, even with the somewhat dubious accolade, "I picked this because it’s as pretty as you, Mommy”?
Do you think you would be insulted or do you see a deeper meaning here?
While out walking I contemplated these little yellow flowers and realized that I can still see the beauty. I can still appreciate that bright happy yellow amidst the flagrant and choking green leaves. But I see something more now. I see a metaphor, and I see God’s promise.
St. Therese of Lisieux, referred to as “the Little Flower” used the metaphor of the flower to describe herself. She looked around the Creation of God and realized that not everyone could be a lily or a rose, but some had to be the thistle and some had to have thorns because all serve their purpose by the will of the Lord. I have found her view to be not only practical, but also prophetic.
Look around you and see the bigger picture, but keep that little dandelion outside your door in mind. What do you see or perceive in others when you walk out that door and enter the world? Do you look for the faults in others, or do you see the beauty? Are you able to get over the sometimes “ugly” exterior to find the true heart and passion of another? Do you cut people down because you don’t see their value?
Or are you that dandelion? Do you feel that you are constantly being mowed and yet, somehow, you still find yourself back, smiling bravely even though you don’t see the value in yourself anymore?
Isn’t it possible that God sent this one insignificant weed as a reminder that the truth is not always apparent and sometimes we have to look for it and accept it? And sometimes, maybe we need to identify with the dandelion and see how she comes back again and again, no matter what happens. There is strength and cheerfulness there, a rebellion against the oppression of the world and the corrosion of the soil that supports. It seems that where the conditions are the most harsh, the dandelion thrives even more, a testament to the grace of God and the strength He lends to all of us.
I had lost that childhood view of the world, and that day, I got a glimpse of it again. I don’t want to see the weed anymore. Now, when I look out upon a field of dandelions, I see promises from God, bouquets of gifts from his heart to ours, and a sign of strength when life beats us down again and again. I hope I can take this little lesson I learned; that in what I sometimes perceive as a frustration, when viewed correctly, can be seen as a special promise from the God who loves us.
For myself, I learned long ago that I will never be a rose, a carnation, or even a violet. The lilies of the fields spoken of in scripture do not define me. But when I see the dandelion, I have come to understand that I am that dandelion and even today, I place that little weed in a little green vase as a testament to the God who gave me life, to praise and glorify Him in the most humble of ways and in the most insignificant perseverance. Would that we all fulfill God’s will for our lives, as does the dandelion.