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Legend of the Bluebonnet

By Sarah Rose, Petrus Consultant

“Intense love does not measure, it just gives.” - St. Teresa of Calcutta

Spring is here! In Texas, that means the bluebonnets are in full bloom. These gorgeous blue flowers bring joy to so many people - including myself!

Growing up, The Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie dePaola was one of my favorite books. It is the perfect book for any wildflower lover in Texas. Now it is a storytime go-to for my little ones.

Tomie dePaolo recounts the tale of how the beautiful bluebonnet flower came to be. It is a story about a Comanche girl who makes a transformational gift - a gift that not only meets the needs of her community, but also transforms the Texas hill country. 

To view a video of a reading of the book, click here.

The legend takes place during a terrible drought and famine. The Comanche people lament, “Great Spirits, the land is dying! … Tell us what we must do.” As things worsen, the Shaman announces that “The Great Spirits say the People must sacrifice. We must make a burnt offering of the most valued possession among us.” 


Most valued possession

While the tribe members hesitate to identify what truly is the most valued possession among them, a young, Comanche girl named She-Who-Is-Alone knows immediately that her warrior doll is her most valued possession. 

The warrior doll is the only thing she has left from her family who died from the famine. Not only is each feature of the doll exquisite, the details and embellishments hint at a prosperous time before the current drought. The doll represents common worldly securities - possessions and titles - that many of us value dearly. 


Presence and intentionality in the ritual

Under the cover of night, She-Who-Is-Alone leaves the village to find an isolated spot. There she collects branches, and starts a small fire. Painfully, she gives the dolls to the flames. However, the task at hand is not over. She-Who-Is-Alone waits for the fire to die and the ashes to cool, so she can throw the ashes to the four winds. 

The sacredness in which She-Who-Is-Alone treats this sacrifice is noteworthy. She honors her gift with her presence and intentionality in the ritual. 


A transformational gift

In the morning, the ground is covered with beautiful flowers, more beautiful than all the doll’s unique features. Bluebonnets flood the fields in every direction. The drought is broken and the little girl is given a new name - One-Who-Dearly-Loved-Her-People.

This young, orphaned Comanche girl participates in something quite extraordinary - transformational giving. By intentionally giving her most valued possession, she was able to participate in a visible miracle. 

This is not a mere transactional gift. Warrior doll in exchange for rain. Through giving the gift of the warrior doll, the Comanche girl acknowledges and honors her most valued possession. She adopts a broader perspective that her most valued possession, while hard to give up, is needed for everyone. Finally, the Great Spirits celebrate and give thanks for her gift with the visible beauty of the wildflowers.

This spring, let's ask ourselves: How can I invite others to make a transformational gift? What traditions or rituals does my organization have that invites others to be more present and intentional in their giving?

“Let us remember that love lives through sacrifice and is nourished by giving.  Without sacrifice, there is no love.” – St. Maximilian Kolbe


Who doesn’t love a childhood picture? This is Sarah in the Texas bluebonnets as a kid!


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