The Littlest Flowers

The statue of our Heavenly Queen had been crowned, hymns were ringing through the fresh spring air, and the little ones were all lined up to present their bouquets to Mother Mary at our annual Mother’s Day celebration with the women we serve and their children. At first, chubby hands tightly clasped the tiny blossoms distributed by the Sisters, but the shyness lasted but moments before a few brave souls began walking up the stone path to place their flowers in the empty vases waiting to be filled. Then, all at once, the rest of the children began to rush forward with joy and a slight fear that somehow their gifts would be lost in the crowd. They might not have grasped the full significance of the gesture, but they could tell this was something special and that their mothers were watching. They couldn’t wait for that shining moment of putting those flowers into the vase.

Joy and excitement increased and the narrow path was flooded with children who were spilling into and onto the bushes!  Another Sister and I began lifting the ones who had delivered their flowers over the bushes to prevent injuries, but after we set them down, they proceeded to run even faster, desiring to go back up to Mary with more flowers. Needless to say, the flowers left to pass out were quickly dwindling. All of a sudden we saw a little girl not more than 5 years old hastening forward with her ponytail flying in the wind and what appeared to be the biggest flower of the day. She had pulled one of the vibrant tulips out of the garden and was thrilled to be bringing it to the Blessed Mother! It was inspiring to see her little face all lit up to be giving our Mother the very best she could find. Yes, that tulip stole the show; but in front of me there were two little girls watching the whole thing dejectedly. They anxiously exclaimed: “She got a BIG one!” I could tell by the sound of their voices that they were feeling left out and ashamed of the little flowers they were holding in their hands. I did not know how to console them, not wanting to encourage what might end in the entire garden being dug up! That is when the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart with the gentlest whisper that was not only for these little girls, but for my heart as well. “Our Blessed Mother loves the littlest flowers.” After I repeated these words to the girls, they were totally content to give their little offering. They presented those flowers with such joy that I was amazed at the faith they had in words that Holy Spirit spoke; they believed that our Mother would love their flowers and they cheerfully gave their gift without comparing it to the other flowers.

St. Therese, known as the “Little Flower,” was recognized for the way she did little things with great love, and she reminds us that everyone is called to become a Saint no matter whether the gifts they have seem big or small. In her autobiography she made this point clear:

Jesus set before me the book of nature; I understood how all the flowers He created are beautiful, how the splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the Lily do not take away the perfume of the little violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose her springtime beauty, and the fields would no longer be decked out with little wild flowers. And so it is in the world of souls, Jesus’ garden. (14, Story of a Soul)

Our Lord desires each of us to come to know the unique and irreplaceable gifts He has given us to share with the world. No one else can give to the Lord the love we have in our hearts and the gifts that He has given us, and those little ones reminded us of this important lesson.  It was not the grandeur of the tulip or the simplicity of the little flowers that attracted our Blessed Mother, but it was the love with which they were given.

We recently celebrated the great Solemnity of Pentecost—which marks the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Mary and the Apostles and the birthday of our Church! During this time we are reminded that God is continuously raining down gifts in the Holy Spirit upon His children. Whether we perceive them to be “big” or “small,” “ important,” or “unimportant,” it is the love with which we receive these gifts and give them back that is most pleasing to our Lord. May we joyfully run forward on this journey to Heaven with our eyes fixed on Jesus (and watching out for those bushes!) ready to give Him the greatest gift of all—our very selves!

Come Holy Spirit, open our hearts to receive all of the gifts the Father wants to give us through His Son. May we come to more deeply recognize His unique and tender love for us and His desire to do great things in and through us. Teach us how to share these gifts with all souls for His glory.  We ask this in Jesus’ Holy Name. Amen.