Is the story true?  Did it really happen?   I like to believe that in every legend, every parable, every story, there is a tidbit of ‘something’ that can bring good news.  The legend of the Poinsettia plant might be such a story – if it is true.   But even if it is not true, it is a good story.

It’s a story about love.  And a story about love is perfect for the Fourth Sunday in the Season of Advent with its theme of love.

The story so impressed Joel Roberts Poinsett (first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico and botany-lover), that he brought the bright red star-shaped flower to the United States from Mexico and that is how, it is said, that the Poinsettia plant got its name.  But what was the story – the legend?

Little Maria and her brother Pablo were very poor.  They  barely had enough to eat two meals a day.   Each year, their village church in Mexico created a large Manger scene and everyone wanted to go and offer the Baby Jesus a present.

Even though the children had no money and couldn’t buy a gift, they wanted to see the baby and bring him a present.  Maria thought they could bring some weeds growing along the roadside to make the bed softer for the baby and decorate the baby’s crib.  But when they arrived with the weeds, other children teased and mocked them for bringing such a lowly gift.  Maria and Pablo began to cry.

Suddenly, the weeds were transformed into bright red petals that looked like stars!  Everyone was in awe.  It soon became clear that what the sister and brother had brought the Christ Child was far dearer than the most expensive present that could be bought.  They had brought the gift of Love. Precious.  Valuable beyond any other gift.

But then again, the Gift of Love always is, as this short little video “Believe in Love” from Austria reminds:  

If you’re still uncertain about the importance of love, how about this wee story about Pooh, Piglet and Eeyore:  One day, Pooh and Piglet realized that they hadn’t heard from Eeyore for several days, so they put on their hats and coats and trotted across the Hundred Acre Wood to Eeyore’s stick house.  Inside the house was Eeyore.  “Hello Eeyore,” said Pooh.  “Hello Pooh. Hello Piglet,” said Eeyore, in a glum sounding voice.   “We just thought we’d check in on you because we hadn’t heard from you, and so we wanted to know if you were okay” said Piglet.  Eeyore was silent for a moment. “Am I okay?  Well, I don’t know, to be honest. Are any of us really okay? That’s what I ask myself.  All I can tell you, Pooh and Piglet, is that right now I feel really rather Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around At All, which is why I haven’t bothered you, because you wouldn’t want to waste your time hanging out with someone who is Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around At All, would you now.”

Pooh looked and Piglet, and Piglet looked at Pooh, and they both sat down, one on either side of Eeyore in his stick house.  Eeyore looked at them in surprise. “What are you doing?”   

“We’re sitting here with you,” said Pooh, “because we are your friends. True friends don’t care if someone is feeling Sad, or Alone, or Not Much Fun To Be Around At All.   True friends are there for you anyway. And so here we are.”   

“Oh.  Oh”  said Eeyore.  And the three of them sat there in silence.  While Pooh and Piglet said nothing at all, somehow, almost imperceptibly, Eeyore started to feel a very tiny bit better.  Because Pooh and Piglet were There.    No more.  No less.

Life can be difficult and these days, it can seem to be almost impossible.  Many are feeling just like Eeyore: ‘Sad and Alone and Not Much Fun to Be Around At All.’   

We may not be together with family, friends in person because of geographical distance, illness, finances, the three-pronged flu/Covid/RSP bugs this year, but we can be together in other ways.   Let’s pick up the phone and call someone we know – pick up a pen and write someone an old-fashioned letter – send a text, an email, a handmade card, decorated envelope. 

And if we can’t do any of that, let’s ‘think’ of others:
– People we know and consider part of our family
– People we appreciate, but don’t know – shopkeepers, educators, health care professionals, recycling/garbage workers, municipal workers, restaurant employees, artisans and crafters, service people, postal workers, first responders, housecleaners, volunteers, politicians, lawyers, bus/truck drivers, religious leaders, computer technicians and the list goes on. 
– People we don’t know personally, yet know about in our communities and this world we share: the homeless, unemployed, addicted, dispossessed, abused; those who are dying, grieving, depressed, sad, lonely, frightened; those at war; those dealing with mental, physical, spiritual illness.   

As we ‘think’ of them, let’s “think love.”  Let’s send thoughts of love’s healing touch to their body, mind and spirit.  Some call that ‘prayer’.   Some call it ‘energy’.   By whatever name, it can be powerful stuff!  

May this be a blessed, very special Fourth Sunday of Advent in ways we cannot even begin to ask or imagine.

© June Maffin