Flowers for Mary

On August 15, the Church celebrated the feast of the Assumption and Dormition of Mary, God-bearer. Tradition tells us that when it was Mary’s time to die, the apostles were mystically transported to her side, with the exception of Thomas who was otherwise engaged. The apostles were there with her at the moment of her death and they buried her. A few days later, Thomas arrived and wanted to see her body one last time, so much did he love his “mother.” When they opened the tomb, a strong scent of lovely flowers was all that remained. She was not there.

And so, in the Eastern Christian churches, the tradition for this feast day is to bring scented flowers and herbs to have them blessed at Liturgy. [Read Renee’s post about their Dormition dinner.]  I did not have enough time to buy my flowers before Mass that day, but I made a point of stopping to get some after.

I wanted tall flowers, spikes of blooms that reached up to the ceiling. That’s what the Assumption is, and what Mary always did–point us toward God. It has been a difficult weekend and week prior, missing Taylor something’ awful, and I was going to do something to brighten my heart in the spirit of the feast.

I went into the store and perused the cut flowers section for several minutes. There were no ready-made bouquets that spoke to me. There were no single blooms that I wanted to get and I wanted BIG. I decided on three types of flowers.  Yellow snap dragons, white alstromeria lilies, and three stalks of pale blue hydrangeas.  These reminded me of Mary, especially with the readings that day.

The check-out lady saw my arms full of flowers and said “Someone’s earning some brownie points today!”  I told her they were just for me, mostly, and explained about the Dormition tradition. She said she might go visit the Catholic church down the road from her house.

I wasn’t going straight home, though, and (luckily, with such a large bundle of flora) I wasn’t cycling, so I rode the train. I felt like I was on a sort of pilgrimage on my way home, processing through the streets, carrying flowers to make an offering. It wasn’t a crowded train, so most of my fellow riders noticed me, carrying a bunch of flowers half as tall as I was. I stuck them in my rain boots by the door of my exercise class and, after, caught them up in all their rain-sprinkled goodness as I left. Another train ride, a walk in the misting rain to the rustle and crinkle of cellophane wrapping.

At home, I arranged my Dormition Flowers in a vase, even before I had anything to eat. I set them on a shelf and turned a light on. I set up our icon corner with the icon of the Dormition and spread out a blue cloth, Mary’s color. It was beautiful. The perfect highlight in my day.

Happy Feast (though a bit late)!



  1. lagbd wrote:

    Gratia plena.

leave a reply