Just last week, the trees in our street and backyard were practically bare. Now they’re almost completely covered with green – as are the (pollen-laden) streets and cars. The growth of new life is in full swing.
It is a phenomenon that takes place like clockwork each year. First, tiny crocuses spring up from the bare ground – barely noticed except perhaps by children young enough to appreciate and delight in it – then come daffodils and hyacinths, then tulips, with everything else following in a mad rush thereafter.
There is a sense of comfort in watching this colorful drama unfold year after year. If not for the accompanying allergies, I would love spring.
And yet we venture outside, allergies and all, lured by all the life and beauty that beckons and surrounds us.
Eager to take part in cultivating growth ourselves, we too, have planted and transplanted here and there each spring – despite having more failures than success, unfortunately. This year, we started with something more manageable – our miniature Resurrection garden and Fairy garden (see slideshow).
A couple of years ago, we added a new tradition to all our spring diggings and plantings.
After inviting a couple of friends over, we walked across the grass together, blooms in hand and singing songs, before laying flowers at the foot of our (then new) Blessed Mother’s image and crowning her with a homemade crown. It seemed only fitting, with so many flowers blooming in the same month as Mother’s Day, to honor our Blessed Mother with some of ours.
It wasn’t as perfect as I would have wished – after all, you couldn’t really call it a Mary garden yet, with more weeds than blooming plants. And yet all that was really needed was there – faith, flowers, and a few songs.
Back home, there is no such thing as a “May crowning”. Instead, we have “Flores de Mayo” (Flowers of May) – a month-long festival in honor of the Blessed Virgin, with daily praying of the Rosary and offerings of flowers to “Mama Mary”. The festival culminates with a novena – nine days of prayer – which then ends with an elaborate “Santacruzan” procession.
[The Santacruzan is a celebration of St. Helena’s finding of the True Cross of Christ (Santa = Holy, Cruz = Cross) in Jerusalem. And though the Feast of the Cross was later moved to September, the Santacruzan still remains part of the Flores de Mayo celebrations in May.]
In the Santacruzan, many young men and women are dressed as biblical figures, queens, escorts, and angels, surrounded by innumerable blooms. It does seem a bit ironic, having a procession of beautiful queens and their escorts in extravagant-appearing attire to celebrate the finding of the True Cross of Christ – the ultimate symbol of humility and self-sacrificing Love.
Though somewhat reminiscent of a May Day celebration, the Santacruzan is infused with so much more meaning. It abounds in beautiful symbolisms that may too easily be overlooked amidst the flurry of royalty and flowers. I could never get them all right myself, so here is an article explaining it. It is well worth perusing – a mini-lesson in bibilical, Marian and even Philippine history compressed into a single procession. (It reminds me of the symbolism contained within a Mary’s garden – only the symbolism is through persons, not blooms.)
It may seem out of place, celebrating the finding of the True Cross at the end of a month-long Flores de Mayo festival for Mary. And yet it only makes sense. For Our Lady’s purpose in life was to give life to Christ, both in her heart and in her womb. Without her “Yes” to God, there would be no Cross – and no Resurrection.
And so it is a good reminder for me, having a statue of Our Lady easily seen through our kitchen window. For she, too, like me, did chores, cooked, washed dishes, and
yelled at kids had bad days. But through it all, she chose to remain united with Christ in her heart – always.
Someday, we’ll have our very own weed-less Mary garden, filled with beautifully symbolic flowering plants surrounding her image. A big undertaking that we hope one day will come to pass. In the meantime, we’ll content ourselves with cultivating seeds that will hopefully bring joy to us and others – in our backyard and in our hearts.