In the spring most Unitarian Universalist congregations in Europe and North America (I don’t know about elsewhere) conduct a flower ceremony, also known as flower communion. The ritual was created by Norbert Capek, a Unitarian minister in Prague in 1923, who wanted a ritual which would be inclusive of both Jewish and Christian alike. Capek turned to the universal beauty of nature – asking the people to bring in local wildflowers, he blessed the overflowing vases of blooms, then invited each person to take a flower. He asked people to remember that we are all brothers and sisters, all connected. Truly, he said, we are all different, yet we are beautiful together. We offer our chalice communities the gifts of our unique selves, and we receive the unique gifts of others. The flower ceremony is a symbol of the value of diversity, the necessity and beauty of our differences that fit together to create a thriving system. I love that the flowers also connect us to the land, as people bring the flowers of the season, from delicate buttercups to rich irises, reminding us of the riches of nature.
This year we were in Iowa at Easter and went to the local congregation where we had the pleasure of experiencing their annual flower ceremony – far earlier than it would be here in Canada. At the end of May I helped lead the service at First Toronto, telling the story and framing the distribution. This past weekend I could have made it to my third flower communion as here in Waterloo the service closes our congregational year. Instead I choose homemade waffles and fresh strawberries on the patio, enjoying my first weekend off and home in months. Flower communion is one of my favourite services, I love the exuberant, overflowing abundance of the flowers and the delightful chaos of everyone trying to pick a flower that speaks to them.
I didn’t get any photos of the flowers in service, but I found these amazing flower petal designs. These danmala images, by artist Kathy Klein, are gifts to the world, created, photographed and left in place for someone to stumble upon. Kathy says “The danmalas remind us all to listen to the unheard voice of nature, creation, and the eternal mystery”.