As children, we attended Catholic School. Our Dad wanted us to receive a good education. He worked for the church as a painter-handyman after his factory job in order to help pay tuition. Our church was a beautiful Cathedral. Every day we attended Mass in the morning before starting school.
When I was in 2nd grade, our class made our 1st Communion. It was a special time for all of us. During the month of May, our class was honored by allowing each of us children who were receiving our First Communion to crown the statue of the Blessed Virgin which graced a beautiful altar at the front of the church. Each of us was designated a special day to crown her. My day was Monday, May 20th.
All of us children were nervous in anticipation of our special day. We knew what an honor it would be to walk up the special steps, lined in linens and silks, to crown the Virgin. Each day, as classmates and family members looked on watching their son or daughter climb the steps, I saw how more beautiful, ornate and expensive the crowns were becoming. Being so very poor and the only Latino child in class, I started to become nervous. Each day I ran home to my mother.
“Oh, momma, momma. The crowns. They are so beautiful. They are made of flowers and gold and silver. Oh so beautiful! Momma. What should we do? How can we make such a beautiful crown to honor her?”
Momma always responded, “Don´t worry. The crown we make for your day will be very beautiful. God will help us. It will be fine.” Mom often quoted bible verse. One of her favorites was, “why are you anxious about what to wear? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I say to you, that even Solomon in all his glory is not arrayed like one of these.”
My mother loved to make crafts and sew. We searched and searched her sewing basket but we just couldn´t decide upon the right materials. About a week before my day, she took me to the local dime store. I knew we didn´t have much money, but she had scraped together her change and we went to the store. We searched up and down the aisles. Finally, in the back of the silk flowers she leaned over and found one single thread of Lilies of the Valley.
“Look Mija, it is a sign.” She picked up the flowers and a string of Baby´s Breaths, all within our meager budget, and we headed home. Momma and I carefully weaved the flowers together into a crown. When we finished we both knew it was nice. It looked so delicate and sweet. Just beautiful. Mom hugged me and said, “Consider the lilies of the field, and even Solomon in all of his glory is not arrayed like one of these.”
On my day, I woke up early. Mom had wrapped up the crown in special tissue for me. She came with me to church that day. When we arrived, my nun schoolteacher brought me next to her so she could put me in the procession. I don´t know if she was worried for me, but she looked almost sorry for me when I handed her my tissue covered crown. As she peeled back the tissue, her eyes blinked back her shock. “Oh, Dee! This is a beautiful crown! Perhaps the most beautiful I have ever seen.”
I beamed with happiness and said, “My mother helped me… she said “The Lilies of the Field….”
The sister nodded immediately, smiled and hugged me, and guided me to my place in the procession.
As I leaned up and placed the crown on the Virgin´s head, it slid on very snugly, a perfect fit.
As I climbed down to the bottom step, I looked into my mother´s eyes. She was so proud. My teacher and the kids, they smiled too. I genuflected in front of the Virgin and looked into her eyes. I could tell she was pleased. She looked so happy with her beautiful crown.