Friday, April 3, 2009

Mary, Mary, how does your garden grow?

(originally published in diocesan papers in 2006)

I have the space all picked out. It’s a little nook around back where the cellar door forms a right angle with the exterior wall of the house. That’s where I want it. My Marian Garden.

I have the clipping torn out of a magazine. The roses in the pictures are beautiful. I’ve made a mental note to order the bushes soon.

The whole thing was a joke when I was still in my college days. Dubuque is a strong Catholic town, and Mary’s little gardens were everywhere. We Protestants thought it looked like the Catholics just liked to keep Mary in a bathtub.

We simply didn’t understand. I realize now that there was a lot about Catholic theology that we didn’t understand – especially when it came to the Mother of God.

Unable to discern a difference between worship and veneration, we thought Catholics worshipped Mary. Confused by the term “Immaculate,” we thought Catholics were trying to put the Virgin Mother on the same level as the Divine Son. Unclear about the meaning of the Communion of Saints, we just didn’t understand that Mary wanted to intercede for us.

We had no idea she was Our Mother and loved us with a mother’s heart.

Some of those old prejudices make me feel ashamed, but not my misconception about a Marian garden. I just didn’t know what it was all about. I wasn’t being anti-Catholic, just a bit ignorant. I hadn’t yet fallen in love with my new Mother, and I didn’t understand the hunger to have a place set aside, somewhere beautiful just for her. I’ve always loved roses – especially white roses, but I didn’t make any connection between roses and Mary. I didn’t sense Our Mother at my side, so how could I have understood devotion to her?

With a gentleness that is so characteristic of Our Lady, she has carefully and lovingly revealed her love for me. She has shown me that devotion to her has one purpose and that is to lead me to her Son. She doesn’t eclipse the Son; she reveals the Son. She doesn’t answer my petitions to her, she asks her Son to answer them. Like changing water into wine at the wedding at Cana, Jesus Christ responds to his mother’s voice, especially when we are willing to do whatever He tells us. She teaches us to suffer and to carry our own crosses, even as she suffered when her Son died for our sins. I just didn’t understand.

Simple ignorance has been replaced by simple love. Amazing how that changes things.

So when spring comes this year, Mary will have her rose garden.

And I’ll eat a little crow.


1 comment:

  1. Dear Denise Bossert,

    I love what you have transformed through opening your mind to the light. I've been trying to figure out this poem finally, because my name is Mary and I should understand what people are singing to me. And well, your picture is perfect and it warmed up my heart. I’ve always dreamed of having a blood red rose garden to enjoy each waking day. Plus a lime tree!!! It would be like living in a novel. I hope having this great garden in your home feels like poetry to you.

    Your friend in faith,