National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

Daisy Chain

Marge Fenelon falls off her bike and onto God’s lap.

BY MARGE FENELON

November 26-December 2, 2006 Issue | Posted 11/22/06 at 11:00 AM

 

One evening a few weeks ago, I hopped on my clunky old 10-speed and took to the trails along Lake Michigan.   

This was nothing new. All summer long, I’d worked my way up and down the shore either on foot or behind a set of ram-horn handlebars. As my legs and feet worked, my heart and mind worked. It was my private escape — the place I went to question, sort, grieve, rejoice, reminisce, release and just listen to whatever Our Lord was saying to me.

The best part was when the daisies were in bloom. Either side of the path became a veritable sea of feathery white petals and bright yellow centers. Daisies are awesome because they’re composite flowers. What we consider the “flower” is actually a beautiful mosaic of many flowers put together. The more we look, the more we discover.

Daisies make me think of God’s plan for me. I think I see the whole lovely thing with one glance, but when I look closer, I discover a majestic, intricate pattern of tiny flower after tiny flower. I’d spent a lot of time the past few months meditating on that and contemplating the various components of my daisy-life.

Riding along that night, I felt a little sad. The flora of summer had already turned to dry brown skeletons and fading grasses. Worse, the ride seemed bumpier than it had ever been. Painfully bumpy. I cringed as I approached the section across from the seminary, where the path is always cracked and creviced. I started grumbling to myself and wallowing in self-pity. Can’t they repave this dumb path? What do our taxes pay for, anyway? This is the worst it’s ever been!

Then I broke out laughing. The path hadn’t changed; I had! My hours on the path had worn down some of me. It occurred to me that those painful bumps were symbolic of the questioning, sorting, grieving, rejoicing, reminiscing and releasing I’d done over the summer. 

As I made my way toward home, I saw the scraggly brown stalks in a different light. Now they represented all the difficult work I’d endured and the way I’d grown in the process.

They have to pass away in order to make room for the mosaic blooms of next summer. Still, I wished I could find just one last, lingering daisy.

Then I saw it — one last bunch of miniature daisies at the edge of the grass. Jubilant, I waddled the bike over to the plant, reached down, plucked a sprig and carefully placed it into my pack. Then I glanced at my watch and panicked. It had gotten late and I had someplace to be.

In my rush, I didn’t notice that I had knocked the bike out of gear and misaligned the chain. I jumped down on the pedal to give myself a vigorous push-start. Instead of bolting forward, the bike flipped over with me tangled up in the frame.

I sat there for a moment, stunned silent, waiting for my entire body to crumble into millions of pieces like the villains in the cartoons when they whack into a brick wall. Then I broke out laughing again. It hurt like crazy and I was thankful that it did.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isaiah 40:8).

After all the hard work, after all the daisies have disappeared, what’s left is God’s word — his plan — and the changes it has affected in me.

The daisies will be back for another go-round next spring. God willing, so will I.

Marge Fenelon writes from

Cudahy, Wisconsin.