Scraggly Bouquets and Child Theologians

We’re hitting the boards for the Catechism Bowl at tonight’s CCE class. By which I mean: I printed out the word list a full hour ago, and handed it to the children with promises of Easter candy and sharing a Coca-Cola if they would quiz one another. Bribery: the core of successful catechesis in the home.

So, my daughter and I were reviewing her word list and one of the definitions was for The Mass – “the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross offered by the priest in our church.” She parroted that back to me with a frown.

“Do you understand what that means?” I asked.

“I have no idea whatsoever” she deadpanned. I really wonder where she got this sarcastic tone.

So I talked to her about how Jesus sacrificed everything for us, and how at the Mass we offer up our own sacrifices in union with Jesus. “Have you ever heard of a spiritual bouquet?” Again with the “no idea.”

Little brother sat in a patch of sunlight at the foot of her bed, paging through a truck book. “Well, imagine that every act of love you do throughout your day, every prayer you say, is like a flower added to a bouquet. So when you help your brother put his shoes on or start to lose your temper with your big brother but change your mind (“that’s been impossible this week” “okay, fine, but you understand what I mean.” “I guess.”) – each of those actions is a flower and at Mass we bring our spiritual bouquets to offer them to Jesus.”

She interrupted me, one finger pointed up, like the Chairman of the Board. “There’s one problem. There’s one person whose bouquet would be too big to fit in the Church.” “Mary?” “Yes, because she only did good things her whole life long.”

“That’s true, that God prepared her in a special way to be the mother of Jesus, and so we can think about her spiritual bouquet as we say our prayers to ask Jesus to help us to love him more and more.”

“Right now, I’m picturing the Church flooded with flowers.”

Lavender flowers bloomingOur scraggly little herb garden features one plant that’s just for decoration – french lavender. I brought home some dried blooms from our trip to Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey in Pecos, New Mexico a couple of years ago, but I discarded them when we moved last summer. They’d lost most of their scent and were dusty and I was frustrated that the prayer box I’d created had become yet another unfinished project, a fixture on my wall but not a reminder of the grace that comes from regular prayer.

But I planted this one seedling in the halfhearted thought that maybe I could dry some more blooms and finally get around to mounting the box back up on the wall in the new house, if I managed to not kill the plant. When I come home from running errands, I stop to gently rub my fingers on the tiny flowers, drinking in the scent of the lavender.

I spend so much time policing the garden for snails, trolling the Internet for gardening advice I won’t follow, worrying that it’s just going to turn back into a patch of weeds. That’s been my default mode of thinking of late – it’s all just going to get messed up again, what’s the point, every time I try to make a change for good I just end up backsliding.

Sitting there thinking about my daughter’s fine pure heart, a heart that feels EVERYTHING so strongly (for good and for…not so good) and all of the flowers she adds to her bouquet – and how she has taught her baby brother the same, to find flowers to bring to Mommy – it’s really so simple, isn’t it? To live a life that’s flooded with flowers.

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  1. says

    I love this. I love my scraggly bouquets wilting on my windowsill. And I love that the Creeping Charlie that Bella put into my vase is now sending off new shoots. And I love that my kids so often teach me more about praying and God’s love than any catechism class or spiritual book.