There’s something irresistible about flowers to my young children. I notice it the moment they can walk: they aim for the dandelions and, wobbling, grasp the stem in their chubby hands.
Their first reaction, bloom in hand, is to hand it to me.
They may sniff it first, or blow the seeds away, but I’m the recipient of as many flowers as they can pick. If I’m not outside with them, they’ll find me and bring me the flowers.
Daddy won’t do for this important gift. Only Mommy gets flowers. (Daddy doesn’t seem to mind and, in fact, encourages this.)
How can I stop myself from smiling, and then from treasuring the flowers that are drooping throughout my house?
In early spring, there is quite a stash of wilted dandelions and shriveled tulips throughout my house. Later it will be irises and day lilies with dandelion accents. Then they’ll bring me black-eyed Susans and coneflowers with the dandelions.
I know what’s blooming outside by what’s sagging in the variety cups on the kitchen table.
Those cups of flowers never fail to make me beam and they never cease to remind me that my days of receiving these bouquets is brief.
So often, in my reflections about Mary, I think about how my prayers are like the blooms my children bring me throughout the spring and summer.
I pray, and sometimes the bouquet I offer is full of wilted dandelions and tulips with not enough stem. Mary takes those prayers just as I take the flowers from my children, with a beaming smile and an exclamation of thanks.
She doesn’t care that I’m bringing her regular old prayers, things she’s heard hundreds of times. She doesn’t mind that I’m distracted and struggling. In fact, I think she might cherish them more, knowing the effort it takes me on those days. I imagine her putting my prayers in a special vase, where her Son can smell them.
Before she puts them in that vase, though, my humble bouquet is transformed by Mary’s loving touch. I don’t see the imperfections of the flowers my children bring me — the fact that they are weeds, the stems are too short, the petals are partly missing — but instead, I cherish them for the intention.
As my young children see beauty, they bring it to me, full of enthusiasm and wonder. They bring me flowers because they love me, and they trust that I will be delighted.
They are always right, even when it’s a dandelion nosegay dripping with sap that’s sure to stain something. I love the excuse to bring out my fancy glasses for vases and the opportunity to give my kids attention of the “you are so thoughtful” variety.
Whether they are carefully cultivated or largely unwanted in my yard, once they’re picked and brought as a gift to me, those fistfuls of flowers are transformed into the most important gift I’ve received.
That’s just what Mary does to my prayers, to all of our prayers. She takes the common dandelion prayers I present, and before they can wilt or stain, she turns them into a magnificent bunch of roses, complete with baby’s breath and greenery.
As she does that, she’s mediating, acting out her title of Mediatrix of All Graces. She’s standing before us, thrilled to see us coming to her beloved Son, encouraging us to keep praying. She’s cheering us on, taking our humble little bouquets and putting them all over heaven.
I can just hear her exclaiming, “Look, Jesus, at what Sarah brought us! Isn’t it great?”
And Jesus can’t help but smile. He loves His mother so much that her delight is as infectious as my children’s is for me. She’s beaming, and so is He.
And what they’re beaming at is the prayer I almost didn’t say. What has them smiling in my direction is not even my best effort, not even a worthy tribute, not even something worth mentioning.
It’s hard not to be encouraged to give it another go, knowing that they love me so much that they clamor over my simple gift.
Mary takes my little offerings of dandelions and takes a deep breath of the fragrance. She knows I mean to do more, and she sees that I so often try and fail.
Her prayers, on my behalf, are like the prayers I pray on behalf of my children. She sees me — she sees all of us — in our struggles here on earth and she reaches down, bends over, even gives us a flower or two.
A mediator intervenes between two people, and when we look to Mary as our mediator (or mediatrix, if we’re using fancy terminology), we’re recognizing her role in leading us to her Son.
She doesn’t take away from our devotion to Him, and she doesn’t interfere. Instead, she shares in Jesus’ mediation because she’s part of the Body of Christ and we honor her as Mediatrix of All Graces because of her special role as the Mother of God Made Man, Jesus.
God uses many different instruments to help us in our journey through life, including the people around us, guardian angels, and the saints in heaven.
Mary’s role as Queen of Heaven stems from the custom, in the Old Testament kingdom of David, of the queen mothers. Since the kings had many wives, the title of queen was reserved for the king’s mother. Her authority was greater than the many wives, partly because there was only one of her.
The Queen of Heaven is a natural mediator for each of us.
She goes to the King with offerings that are, at least in my world, pretty embarrassing gifts for a king. Dandelion bouquets for a King such as Him?
Even so, He’s happy to receive them, delighted to smell them, thrilled to see us, and that’s in part because His mother has brought them to Him.
I think of our love of flowers as an inheritance, as a habit that was started in my youth and is now being passed along to the next generation, because I can’t help it.
When they bring me the the tulips — ALL of them! — I can’t help but put them in as many small cups as I can find, not criticizing the short stems, not scolding about keeping them in the ground.
After all, I only have a short time when they will bring me flowers with their chubby little hands, their faces glowing with the delight of giving such a beautiful gift.