“This is my fundamental conviction: diversity is beautiful. All people in all their colours, all the flowers in the sunlight, this is beautiful.” Rev. Matthew Johnson-Doyle.
Each spring Unitarian Universalist congregations in North America celebrate a flower ceremony created by a Czechoslovakian Unitarian minister Norbert Capek. Capek wanted a ritual which would be acceptable to both the Jewish and Christian members of his congregation. He turned to the universal beauty of nature, asking people to bring in local wildflowers, he blessed the overflowing vases of blooms, then invited each person to take a flower home. Capek asked people to remember that we are all brothers and sisters, all connected. 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. It is a joyful service, with lightness and gratitude. I love that the flowers also connect us to the land, as people bring the flowers of the season, from delicate buttercups to sumptous roses, reminding us of the riches of nature.
For our spiritual practice this week, I invite you to create an at-home flower ceremony.
Host an informal get-together and ask each friend to bring their favourite flower, whether from their garden or a florist. Have a communal vase and ask each person to speak about their flower and what it represents to them. Is it their favourite flower because of its associations with a special event or person in their life? Does its colour or shape symbolize a meaningful attitude? Is it an aesthetic choice? Ask them to reflect on what their choice says about them in this moment in time.
At the end of the evening, gather around the vase and ask each person to choose a different flower to take home.
If you have a garden with flowers, go outside and ask each person to pick a few flowers. If not, bring home a variety of flowers from a florist. Place them in a vase and have the family sit around it. Take a minute to sit quietly and look at the flowers. Ask each family member to talk about which ones they like the most. Parents may want to point the differences in the flowers, how well they look all together, or how a healthy system has room for lots of different kind of plants or people.
Invite the family to take a favourite flower and place it beside their bed. Ask them to look at in the morning and before bed time.
Solo Flower Ceremony
The UU flower ceremony is a celebration of community. As a personal spiritual practice it can be a way to honour people who matter to you. Using a bouquet of flowers, place each stem into a vase one at a time. With each flower, connect it to a person within your life. Reflect on how that person contributes to your well being. These may be your closest friends and family, or who provide you an essential service you deeply value, or an acquaintance who has had a positive impact on you in the last few weeks. Silently or out loud thank that person as you put the flower into the vase. Continue adding flowers until you run out of people you wish to uphold and appreciate.
Sit back and appreciate the abundance of people and beauty in your life.