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FOR THE JOURNEY | No flower goes unseen

It was an old electric wringer washing machine. My mom used it in the basement of our farmhouse before she graduated to a modern washer/dryer set more like those we have now.

You can find these old machines online marketed as “collectibles.” They had a big round tub, with an agitator, but there was no spin cycle, or any cycle for that matter. When the water drained out of the tub, you took the item of clothing and fed it through a wringer that squeezed the excess water out.

One day, as a 2-year-old, I was “helping” Mom, probably standing on a very high stool, and accidentally began to feed my own little hand into the wringer. The machine was quickly turned off, I suffered no broken bones and all was well.

I would never remember the incident — or the old-fashioned wringer — if I hadn’t heard the story repeated so many times in later years.

That was because mom loved to recall my subsequent performances. After the initial tears, I was fine until dad came in from the fields that afternoon. Then, the pain and many crocodile tears returned. The hand and arm needed much concern and consolation.

All was peaceful again until grandpa came out to visit that night. The story was repeated, the tears returned, the arm held up for inspection and compassion. I knew a good attention-getter when I saw one, and hammed it up effectively.

Deep down, don’t we all want some special attention now and then? Don’t we want to be recognized, to have our concerns and hurts addressed, to have someone care? Even a 2-year-old desires to share their life experience with those who will embrace their pain and listen to their story.

The group “The Porter’s Gate” performs a song called “Little Things With Great Love.” I find the first line deeply consoling: “In the garden of our Savior, no flower grows unseen.”

Outside my dining room window is a huge bed of white hibiscus. They have bloomed profusely this summer, and happy bees have been busy in their blossoms. But now, as the nights cool and the rains come, they diminish.

There were hundreds and hundreds of blossoms, each one a perfect work of art. I enjoyed the effect of their bounty. But how many of those beautiful blossoms received my individual admiration? Not many.

But the God of the universe, the God of black holes and galaxies, the God who is aware of the children killed in Ukraine, the individuals lost to mass graves in the Holocaust, the God of the suffering and the poor, that God saw every blossom on my hibiscus bushes, that God sees the deepest needs of each heart.

As we deepen our relationship with a God who cares about us so completely, it encourages us to pay more attention, not just to the beauty and glory of God’s bounty in our yard, but to the beauty of this earth so challenged right now.

Our relationship with this God compels us to ask, “What can I do? How can I honor the earth’s resources more carefully? How can I hear the cry of the poor in a more generous way? How can I look beyond the glory of my hibiscus to my neighbors near and far? How can I stop to listen, to be a consoling presence? How can I learn to ‘hear’ what is sometimes unspoken? Two-year-olds make their needs known. But silent pleas are all around us.”

The Savior who lets no flower go unseen listens to us, just where we are.

Effie Caldarola is a columnist for Catholic News Service

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