She was in the Church, standing before the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, heartbroken. In her hands, she carried a beautiful red rose perched precariously in a cracked, though ornate, vase. She openly wept, oblivious to the others milling about in awkward silence.
Finally, a gentle old woman, Rita, moved towards her, hoping to find the source of such heavy grief. Softly, the older woman placed her hand upon the crumpled body of the younger and asked, "Why are you crying?"
Looking up, almost confused by the question, she answered, "My tears humbly go where my words dare not." Bowing her head again, the tears fell full and fast.
Not content to leave such a gaping wound with no salve, Rita eyed the chipped vase cupped in those trembling hands. "Such a beautiful flower," she whispered.
"I broke it. The Blessed Mother gave it to me and I broke it."
Rita thought for a moment. "You haven't broken the flower, dear."
"No, but I broke its vase. It's leaking, and the rose is already starting to brown. I've pieced it back together so many times, but the cracks are too deep, the shards too many. All I can do is watch it die. So here I am, begging God to perform a miracle."
Rita smiled, then. The chapel florist, she knew a thing or two about flowers and vases. She affirmed, "Your flower truly is a gift. It is unique and special beyond compare. I believe Our Lady entrusted this to you because she knew the goodness of your heart. She knew you'd protect this rose, and she knew you'd come to God if ever you felt overwhelmed by the responsibility of nurturing such a special gift. And here you are."
"Yes. Here I am, still with a broken, bleeding vase."
"Ah, but here I am, too! You don't need a miracle; you need a remedy. I believe that I am your remedy. The gift is yours, and you've done well to nurture it all this time. Sometimes, however, we need help protecting those things most dear to us, even when we think the responsibility is solely ours. I can help with this."
Rita then pulled a handkerchief from her pocket. After dampening the cloth in a font, she gently removed the rose from its crippled vase. With deft fingers, she wound her cloth around the stem. She said, "This will keep your rose well guarded while you choose a new vase. It should be simple and strong. An ornate vase has too many parts that chip and fall away, and it detracts from the humble beauty of the flower itself."
Then, while handing the flower back to her, Rita added, "Showcase this rose for what it is... not for what you think it ought to be."
Grateful, the young woman nodded her head, dried her tears, and hurried to find a simple vase, having left the broken one at the Feet of the Lord. He and Saint Rita smiled gently after her.
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