Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Gearing up for our 20th Year!!! 1993-2013
Looking back is not always advisable. We are called by Christ to put our hands to the plow and not look back. In looking back, we risk taking our eyes off of Jesus and where would that get us?
However, being mindful of where we have come from and how far we have come can be a source of great grace. I can only imagine the thoughts Peter may have had while walking in Rome teaching and talking to the first Christians. How often did he wonder how he came to Rome from the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
We have the inspiring story of his fleeing Rome to escape persecution. During his escape, he encountered Christ himself along the Appian Way and asked his savior, “Quo vadis?” “Where are you going?” Christ replied, “Back to Rome to be crucified.” Realizing what Christ was willing to endure - again - for him, Peter turned around and went back to face his own execution.
Those are my thoughts as I reflect on the reality of Little Flowers some 20 years from its first small seeds. Not that Little Flowers has been a martyrdom at all but years and years of unexpected blessing!
But, rather I am thinking of Peter who was so far from his boat in Galilee. Did he ever imagine that saying ‘yes’ to Jesus would entail the miracles he witnessed or the adventures he undertook? He was an unschooled man, a humble fisherman raised to be our first Pope. I imagine, at times, that very thought brought Peter to his knees in both prayers of intercession and shouts of thanksgiving!
Back here, today, in 2012 and seeing 2013 approaching quickly, my own thoughts are similar. “Has it really been 20 years!? It cannot be 20 years!” However, the bit of gray in my hair and the reality that the first Little Flowers are now in their, mid-20’s make it clear it is indeed 20 years since the first meetings in a little rowhome in Baltimore City.
But, even more humbling is how far Little Flowers has come, how grand the garden has become. And it all began with such a simple question - “How can my daughters gather with other girls their age, have some fun, learn a bit about their faith and have some more fun?”
The gift of “A Catholic Girl’s Way to Life” by Fr. Lasance by a deacon, Charlie Heibler, at my parish during this time provided the beginning of the answer. Having a background in drama, camping, 4-H and other groups from both my childhood and college years, it didn’t take long for this small book to give me ideas to percolate into activities, into meetings and the first draft of a guide for others.
Throughout its beginnings (and to this day), I kept giving it back to God, the Blessed Mother and, especially St. Therese as I knew I could nothing without any of them. I hoped whatever I did - however small or little - would be pleasing to those watching from heaven. The idea of flowers was taken from the book and easy to use. “Growing holy - one virtue at a time” became the verse I repeat again and again. A little bit at time, a small way to God. Little Flowers would themselves become living, beautiful flowers in a garden around the altar of the Lord, the feet of Mary and the throne of God. And they have.
Little Flowers are now young children to older teens. We have families starting it with their first readers and some discovering it for the first time with their pre-teens. “Little” has nothing to do with age but everything to do with attitude. They hope as we do, that every Little Flower - regardless of age - would be “made humble and small in the arms of God, conscious of our weakness, and confident to the point of audacity in the goodness of our Father.” *
The team of ‘gardeners’ has grown from a few moms who met in my living room to moms across the country, the world. A dear friend, Joan, began to talk about publishing it formally; an idea my children embraced as they had long grown tired of standing in the aisle of Staples as I made photocopies to mail out.
Others came forward to write music, others designed crafts and even now many more willingly give their ideas to the leader’s loop on a daily basis. There are too many workers in this garden to name them all, but knowing that Jesus knows gives me reassurance as I offer daily prayers for you all.
I am not far from Baltimore as I still live in Maryland but how far Little Flowers has come. Twenty years ago, I had no idea or even intention that the small seeds sown would become an international landscape of gardens throughout the country, throughout the world! We have small gardens in homes, with larger gardens in schools and parishes. I can picture in my mind the beautiful English garden now in the United Kingdom and wonder what a garden in Australia might look like!
If I could catch up with Peter as he walked back to Rome, I would take his hand and shake my head, “How did we get here? How did this happen?” I can almost feel the strength in his hand as he squeezes it, “Does it really matter? You stepped out of the boat as I did, but if you keep your eyes on Christ, just keep working and let God take care of the details.”
I do not know what the next 20 years has to offer for Little Flowers. The headlines and the struggles we face make it seem daunting but it doesn’t matter. Jesus is there, the Blessed Mother is there and, always, always, St. Therese is there just asking us to plant the seeds with love for ‘love makes time eternal by giving divine value to every thing
.’** We all strive in the same manner,
“do everything as if it all depended on you, and leave the result to the Divine Master on whom everything really depends.”***
*Novissima Verba, p. 112, taken from “I Believe in Love” by Pere Jean du Coeur de Jesus D’Elbee, St. Bede’s, translated, 1974).
**I Believe in Love, pg. 10
***I Believe in Love”, pg. 55.