A Lesson in Faith from a Four-Leaf Clover

This mother of four found a special way to teach her children about the value of positive thinking. 

Posted in , Jun 19, 2020

Four-Leaf Clover

I held my Mother’s Day card close as I walked into the house.

I’d just returned from a visit to the Mother of God Monastery in West Springfield, Massachusetts, where my daughter Mary was finding her vocation as a contemplative nun. The monastery made a business of creating handmade greeting cards, and this one was really beautiful. Of course, I looked forward to cards from all my kids. But this one was extra-special.

We got to visit Mary only once a month for a couple of hours, except during Advent and Lent. She spent her days reading, praying, and learning to play the church organ. In a few years, she would be taking her vows, dedicating her life to God. Today Mary was self-confident and optimistic, but she hadn’t always been that way.

Sitting down with my card, I remembered a spring day when Mary was six. The kids and I were out in the yard enjoying the warm weather. The grass was fresh and green. Clover had sprung up everywhere, and I was a positive thinker. “Look,” I said. “Did you know that if you believe you’ll find a four-leaf clover, you will?”

The children didn’t seem to get the message. I knew I’d have to prove it to them. Every day I scanned the yard while walking to my vegetable garden, believing with every step. After about two weeks, I found my first four-leaf clover and showed it to the kids.

“See?” I said. “I had faith I would find one, and I did.”

My daughters Gretchen, Mary, and Felicity gathered around to see it. Their 12-year-old brother, Joseph, glanced up from the book he was reading, shrugged his shoulders and grinned. “I’ve found hundreds of four-leaf clovers,” he said. “But mysteriously every one of them was missing a leaf!” The girls giggled and I smiled. Joseph had his own priorities.

Gretchen, 10, had a tenacious spirit and wouldn’t think of resting until she finished whatever task she set her mind to. My find had inspired her. In one week, she collected six four-leaf clovers—and one with five leaves! “They were so easy to find,” she said.

Felicity, at three, could be patient and quiet. When I talked about finding four-leaf clovers, she listened silently and took it all in. I knew she would come upon one in her own time. Sure enough, while we were weeding the garden one day, Felicity toddled over to me.

“Look, Mommy,” she said.

In her little hand, she held a perfect four-leaf clover. But the exercise wasn’t so easy for Mary. Every time one of her siblings found a new clover, she threw a tantrum. She hated feeling left out. “It’s not fair,” she complained. “I’ll never find one.”

“Yes, you will, Mary,” I said. “You just have to keep looking and believe that you will.”

But Mary didn’t want to look. Perhaps she was fearful of investing her-self too much. What would it mean if she never found one after looking so hard? By the end of the summer, every one of us had forgotten about four-leaf clovers, but I didn’t give up hope that I could teach Mary to think positively. We prayed together daily as a family and attended mass at the Benedictine monastery of St. Gregory the Great. The positive influence of the monks there was a great blessing.

After graduating from high school, Mary earned a degree in theology from St. Anselm College. Then she entered the monastery. Once again I opened my card and looked at the smaller card tucked inside. On it was a beautiful pressed four-leaf clover. I reread the hand-written note: “Dear Mommy, thank you for teaching me to seek and believe...even if it takes time and a changing attitude. Love and prayers, Sister Mary.”

It was the best Mother’s Day gift I had ever received.

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