It begins with a simple yellow flower (weed?). Whether flower or weed depends on who is looking at it. A child sees something beautiful. A wine-maker or herbalist may see something valuable. A lawn-keeper sees something ugly and unwanted. Some people see a symbol of how quickly something can spread, because one dandelion has so many seeds in that puffy crown, a small lawn could be covered in gold by one summer.
Malicious gossip is like that. There is the story of a man, Ray, who spread false rumors about another. So malicious were they that in the space of two weeks that person’s reputation was damaged so badly his business failed.
Feeling remorse for the wrong he had done, Ray went to the church and asked for advice about how he could undo this terrible thing. The priest told him to bring a feather pillow to him the next day. Ray did so, and the priest with a heavy knife slit the pillow and tossed it into the air. The feathers flew far and wide, floating on the air, like dandelion fuzz, all over the neighborhood. “Now,” said the priest, “gather up all the feathers and put them back into the pillow.”
Ray was shocked. “I cannot ever gather all those feathers back. Some have flown so far I could never track them,” he said.
“That is true,” said the priest. “And your words have traveled so far and so deep that you will never be able to bring them back.”
Whoever coined this phrase is to be applauded.
“Remember to keep your words kind and sweet,
for you never know when you will have to eat them.”
God be praised for the lowly dandelion, which has more than one lesson to teach us.
Spread the Word,
Oldenburg Franciscan Center
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg