by Sister Faustina, O.C.D.
Several years ago, I had a fourth grader who was very shy and withdrawn. Every inch of her demeanor reflected her low self-esteem. She walked hunched over with unkempt hair in her face. Her eyes were most often fixed on the ground and she regularly sat alone seeming quite dejected.
As I got to know her and learned about her family situation, I began to understand the broken heart within her: a recent divorce, a mother who had to work long hours, too much time alone with the television and an older brother. I tried to bring a smile to her face, a little joy into her life, and sometimes I succeeded but it never lasted long.
Early in the year, I had decided to bring the class to the chapel once a week in order to introduce them to personal prayer. On one particular chapel visit I led them in a guided meditation about a garden. They were sitting around me on the floor of the chapel with their eyes closed.
I started by helping them picture the scene. “Imagine yourself sitting in a beautiful garden. Listen to the birds and feel the gentle breeze blowing through the trees. You are most drawn to the many flowers – all colors, shapes and sizes – surrounding you.”
“Now imagine a very kind and gentle gardener walking through the garden. He lovingly bends down to touch each flower delighting in the uniqueness and beauty of each. As the gardener draws near, you realize that it is Jesus! You are one of the beautiful flowers in His garden and His eyes are full of joy as He sees your unique beauty. You can see the love in His eyes. He bends down to touch you with His hand. Does He speak to you? Look at Him and speak to Him from your heart. What kind of flower are you in His garden?”
I gave the children some time to listen to Jesus and talk to Him in their hearts. After a few minutes of silence, we ended our time of prayer and returned to the classroom. On the way out of the chapel, I glimpsed the little girl I was so worried about. She held her head high, her shoulders were thrown back, and there was smile on her lips.
Curious about what had caused such a dramatic transformation, I walked next to her and asked, “Did you enjoy our time of prayer today?”
“Yes, Sister!” Her eyes were sparkling!
“Did Jesus have anything special to say to you?”
“Yes, Sister.” A radiant joy appeared in her smile.
“Did He tell you what kind of flower you are in His garden?”
“Yes, Sister. He told me I am a rose.”
This little girl met Jesus and the encounter transformed her. Her situation did not change but Christ’s presence was a powerful beam of light in her darkness. I have since lost track of her but it is my hope that she will always remember the day Jesus told her she was His rose, a moment of deep joy when she knew she was loved.