Patrick Walsh

On our way to Mass recently, we picked some black-eyed Susan flowers that our little kids were excited to place before our church’s large statue of the Blessed Mother. By the time we got out of the car and realized the logistical challenge of transporting the three single flowers safely into the church, though, I gave up on the idea. We were running late and wanted to get the kids inside.

So I was surprised that at the end of Mass, the kids produced three flowers from various pockets, and one from the diaper bag. I laughed, because at this point the flowers looked even worse than if they’d been sitting in the hot car. I tried to think of an alternate plan for honoring the Blessed Mother, but my wife chimed in that the blossoms would still be fine. She told the kids, “That is exactly what Mary likes to do. She takes our banged-up gifts, makes them better and offers them to Jesus. Give her the flowers.”

I wasn’t prepared for her on-the-fly theology lesson to get me right in the feels, but I gathered up the kids and we made our way to the statue, before which a number of people were waiting to light candles. I quickly tried to find an alternate Mary statue.

We settled for a stained glass window of Mary’s coronation. The kids left the flowers one by one on the windowsill for the Blessed Mother, Jesus and the janitor. Their mission accomplished, our little ones smiled and went on their way.

But I was left with a real sense of peace, thinking how Mary can transform my “bent and banged up” efforts into a sweet offering to God. For me, it takes the pressure off a bit.

My wife’s insight was a nice reminder of the beauty of having a strong relationship with Mary.  Even when we’re disappointed in ourselves, we can be at peace. In the scope of God, his universe and eternity itself, we are all very little. Our success and failures, while important to God, are also, in a sense, like half-forgotten cut flowers. But if we offer them with love, through his Mother, we can give God our best even though we are very little.

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Patrick Walsh manages Martha’s Choice Marketplace, a choice model food pantry at Catholic Social Services’ Montgomery County Family Service Center. He can be reached at pwalsh@chs-adphila.org. More information about Martha’s Choice can be found at www.marthaschoicemarketplace.com.