“Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. They all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets.” (Luke 9:16-17)
Dandelions. Our battle with them begins every spring and does not end until the snow covers them. Yet they only sleep in the winter. The following spring they are back, sunny as ever.
Here are a few things I know about dandelions. They are the lowest, most common flower that there is and they can flourish almost anywhere. Simple little children find them irresistible—how many bright yellow bouquets are picked free of charge for mothers each summer. Dandelions respond to the sun, by opening in the morning and closing at night. The more industrious of us may use the flowers to make wine, the more adventurous may use the young greens in salads. I understand even the roots can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute. Herbalists also make use of their medicinal qualities. Gardeners will tell you that any attempt to do them in will cause the dandelion to let fly thousands of seed parachutes. Alas, the mighty gardener is no match for the lowly dandelion.
Much as we toil to be rid of them in our lawns and gardens, there is much we can learn spiritually from the lowly dandelion. In a way, I think we penitents are called to be the dandelions of God. We are called to be humble, lowly and common. We are not orchids needing constant care, attention and coaxing. We are called to flourish anywhere and everywhere, even in conditions that may be harsh or inhospitable.
Even when fasting, we are called to be sunny and cheerful. If little children are not attracted to us, we must ask ourselves if we are fully opened up to the risen Son. We must allow ourselves to be picked and presented to the Blessed Mother in little golden bouquets. We must be useful in all our aspects, not holding back root or stem or leaf or flower. We must give all in service to God and other, bringing healing and joy wherever we go.
Our prayers and sacrifices must be persistent and plentiful. If we are attacked, the parachutes of prayer and seeds of sacrifice we let fly must increase a thousand-fold. We let them go, not knowing which ones will bear fruit, but trusting in the providence of God to miraculously multiply our lowly efforts and our meager offerings.
Little dandelions have to trust in providence, for we have no power of our own. We trust in the same providence that multiplied the small offering of loaves and fishes for the hungry crowd. We must not fear that what we offer is too small or common to give to God or to others. St. Therese, the Little Flower tells us that God delights in all the flowers of His garden, from the most perfect rose to the littlest, most common flower. One flower must not be jealous of another, but be the best flower it can be for the glory of God.
God made dandelions to be in abundance, to fill the earth, to be useful, and to thrive. Even if we are covered with snow for a season, we little dandelions know we will be back in the spring, sunny as ever. The world hates dandelions. But we dandelions have nothing to fear, for Jesus Christ has risen and has conquered the world. Alleluia! Alleluia!