Posted May 10, 2011:
Spring Wildflowers

by Fr. Eddie Doherty.

A group of children coming home from school darted into the woods as I came along the road toward them. I thought, naturally, that my appearance had frightened them. I may as well confess that I sometimes go two full days without shaving.

But I was giving myself an importance I did not rate. They hadn’t paid any attention to me. They were neither frightened by me nor aware of me. They were hunting wild flowers.

One little girl, with her hands filled with red flowers, cried out to another, "Oh look! There are some more." Her chum, carrying a great bunch of white and yellow flowers, said, "Oh yes!"

Gold and silver stars. Dark red triangles. And everywhere—so numerous the children disregarded them—were violets in all shades of blue and purple.

Odd where these beautiful things grow. In the rotten wood of a tree that fell a hundred years ago or more. In patches of brambles. In the shade of a broken birch. In inaccessible places, and in spots where the black flies and the mosquitoes are so thick even the most intrepid do not venture there.

You can’t see the flowers from the roadside, though you can sniff their fragrance. You’ve got to get into the woods and stoop and crawl and proceed with the utmost caution everywhere to collect a fistful.

Sometimes you get the silly idea that even God, who planted them, can’t find them, doesn’t want to look for them, has forgotten all about them.

And sometimes you think maybe God sent his lightning or his wind to fell that tree a hundred years ago so that its rottenness in time would be good for the roots of the exquisite star anemone, and maybe he snapped that stately birch in two so that its hanging part might afford shelter to this frail maroon triangle.

Do you think that’s too much trouble for God to go to for a couple of wild flowers? It’s no trouble at all. And, I suspect, since he uses such exceeding skill to give the flowers beauty, that he loves wild flowers.

You find some people like that, too, men and women formed by the cunning hand of God. You come across them in the country wildernesses and in the city’s slums. People of fragrant virtue. Hidden saints. Shut-ins, some of them; or invalids who bear affliction with patience, even with joy, because it is the will of God. You find them if you hunt for them. But they are rare anywhere.

Sometimes you get the crazy idea that God has forgotten them too, or cannot find them. And then you think that maybe even before So-and-So was born, God decided this was the soil she needed most, the soil of suffering. Maybe God sent lightning and the winds of adversity to prepare the way for her. What fragrance she will bring him!

The children whom I saw in the woods intended to place their flowers before the statue of Our Lady. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that God picks his human wild flowers with the same object in mind. To place them before his mother. That she may enjoy them forever.

Adapted from Getting to Know God, pp. 88-89, available from MH Publications.


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