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May Blossoms, Part Two

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©Heidi Bratton Photography

The guy sitting next to me in the optometrist’s office bugged me. I mean, he really bugged me. He bugged me like I wanted to actually step outside and stand on the sidewalk by the front door until it was time for my appointment; that’s how much he bugged me. Rather than commit an act of violence or some other blunder of self-embarrassment, I decided to just… tune him out. But, I couldn’t, and that was exactly the problem.

The guy had a stack of CDs with him and one of those portable CD players. He had his ear buds in and the music was loud enough for me to recognize it as music, but not loud enough for me to make out the notes or lyrics. So, it was kind of like this irritating mosquito buzzing-type noise that makes you want to smack something, preferably its source. Additionally, this guy was one of those nervous nellies who are constantly in some kind of motion. He had one leg crossed over the other and was swinging it back and forth. What made it even worse was that he had on a pair of those plasiticy-ish athletic pants that make a swishy-crackly sound whenever you move. Buzz, buzz, buzz…swishy-crackle, buzz, swishy-crackle, buzz, swishy-crackle. I was debating whether what I was inclining toward doing would lead me to the confessional. 

“But Father! You don’t understand! His CD player was buzzing like a mosquito, and his pants were making repetitive, swishy-crackly sounds! I had to do it!”

“Oh, I see. Well, then, it looks like you’ve already done your penance. Go in peace.”

As my poor, deprived children will tell you, I cannot stand unnecessary noise. No reason in particular, it just… bugs me. Gum clacking, finger snapping, toe tapping… in my books they should all be absolutely verboten for all of mankind 24/7/365, permanently.  So, you can imagine I was not having a jolly time with this guy sitting next to me.

I guess the mosquito and crackly pants weren’t enough noise for him, because then he struck up a conversation with the receptionist — on the other side of the waiting room, mind you, and over the music, mind you — about what her kids got her for Mother’s Day.  I was ready to… never mind.

I tried harder to tune out the conversation, but it still invaded my mental space. He was telling the receptionist what he got his mother for Mother’s Day.

“I got her some flowers, a ring — a really sparkly one —  a picture, and a wooden elephant. She’s really gonna like that wooden elephant,” he bragged.

A wooden elephant? I cringed.

Then I realized that this guy had some kind of developmental disability. The unusual drawl, cadence of his speech, facial expressions, and motions made it obvious. Oh, dear. I really felt like a heel.  Rather than being bugged by him, I should have been complimenting him for the way he functions in society in spite of his disability. How awesome! Suddenly, I found myself filled with admiration for this guy and with appreciation of the gifts God is giving the world through him.

What’s more, I was taken in by the childlike simplicity of his gifts for his mother and his excitement in presenting them to her. I knew immediately that she had to have positively loved those gifts; not because they were exquisite — because they were not, materialistically speaking — but because he gave them to her. And in that respect they were indeed exquisite. I almost envied that fortunate mother. 

As I sat there, listening in to the conversation between the guy and the receptionist (it was unavoidable because of its volume, but I confess, I probably would’ve listened in anyway — yes, Father, I’ll see you Saturday), I started thinking of our Blessed Mother and how she must look forward to gifts from her children. What mother doesn’t? But, it’s different with our Lady because the gifts we give her are spiritual not material. Our wooden elephants come in the form of Hail Marys and little sacrifices made out of love for her. Our sparkly rings are deeds done as perfectly as possible and random acts of service to others.  She loves them all, as she loves each one of us in spite of the “disability” of our humanness and the effects of original sin.

Here we are in the month of May — an entire month traditionally devoted to Mary by Catholics all over the world. Of course we should acknowledge our natural, adoptive, and spiritual mothers on Mother’s Day, but should we not also acknowledge our Blessed Mother? Should we not bring her gifts on each day of the month in which she’s honored? What gifts do we have for this Mother who so unselfishly, limitlessly, cares for us night and day, 24/7/365, permanently?

Visible signs help us to pay tribute on Mother’s Day to our natural mothers. Why not place visible signs in our homes to help us pay tribute to our Blessed Mother during the month of May? Here are some practical and spiritual suggestions:

And of course, the most important are the spiritual gifts we can offer our Blessed Mother during May:

This is just a smattering of ideas of things we can do to honor Mary during May; the possibilities are infinite! As long as it means something to us, that’s all that matters. At the end of the month, we could form our own private “ceremony” are we present our month’s striving to our Mother and Queen. Again, it can be as simple as quieting ourselves and offering our “treasures” to her with a short and spontaneous prayer. She is both child and mother; she understands that not all of us are eloquent pray-ers; nor are we all aesthetic or creative geniuses. Our Blessed Mother will positively love whatever gifts we bring her, even if they’re not exquisite, even if it’s only a wooden elephant… because she’s our Mom.

(© 2011  Marge Fenelon)