Just before the Big Storm slamming through the eastern U.S. right now, these itsy bitsies (some will say they are noxious weeds) were seen spreading out low on the ground in back of the rectory. They need a tiny bitty vase. O.K. Found one. An old super tiny Mass cruet. Perfect. Here’s the result in the tiny chapel on the gradines to the right side of the tabernacle. The wooden tabernacle-esque box to the far right contains the oils, the olea sancta for the various sacraments provided in the parish. I bought that box from Sacred Heart parish in Brevard. It’s from the old church, now a museum, in another part of town.
I have a confession to make regarding these flowers for the Immaculate Conception. Many, indeed most of them are simply pictures I take in the wild with the flowers being very much alive. Some of them can’t really be picked and transported as they would wilt and die no matter what one does (such as the showy lady slippers near the hermitage) even before they could be put in a vase and be put before our Lady. Then there are those flowers behind pasture fences or in the neighbor’s yard next to the rectory. Can’t pick those. Lots of times I’m just lazy and hope that the picture and good intention and writing in honor of our Lady will suffice. It’s only on occasion that I actually pick the flowers, throw them in some water in a vase, and put them before a statue of our Lady somewhere in the rectory. I’m bad and evil. However, I would like to start anew with this earnest edge of this kind of death offering. When I can, when I push myself a bit, it’s a joy to do this.
That bit about a “death offering” of flowers in a vase is a reference to that style of art called “still life,” with life that is still being at least on the verge of death: picked flowers, picked fruit, caught fish, hunted and still bleeding wild game, etc., all useful or beautiful in their own way, but with an edge of death on all of it, that is just now about to lose its beauty, so… hurry! In Europe this is called “nature death” or natura morte. We like to think that the flowers we provide are full of life, but instead, if we’re honest, we know that death is just around the corner.
The reality is that Jesus picks us as if we were flowers to give to His dear Mother. Dying to ourselves so as to live only for God is rather traumatic. Our Lady intercedes for us: “Hurry! He’s dying!” But in dying to ourselves, letting go of the pride of life in this world, falling into the grave, has us look forward to the resurrection, when the beauty of God’s life within us will never fade, will always shine in full beauty.
We’re picked by our Lord when we go to Confession, go up to Holy Communion. He loves us, and rushes to show us to His, to our Mother.