From my heart to yours – October 2014

An inclusive Christian community in Auckland, New Zealand

From my heart to yours – October 2014

The Rose is without why

She blooms because she blooms

She does not care for herself

Asks not if she is seen.

                  – Angelus Silesius

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending a Floral Art workshop led by an experienced floral artist. Along with other ‘would be’ floral artists I learnt a little of the rudiments of floral art design. I was surprised to learn that Floral Art was popular during the great ancient civilisations of Egypt, (2800 BCE – 28 BCE) Greece (600 BCE – 150 BCE) and Rome (28 BCE – 325 CE). I have also discovered that the Chinese were making flower arrangements as far back as 207 BCE to 220 CE, in the Han era of Ancient China; there flowers were an integral component of religious teaching and medicine.

While undertaking research for this article I came across two questions, which raised my curiosity, namely:

What led Flowers to have such amazing beauty?

Are there any flowers that have not changed much during the evolution of our planet?

Of course to fully answer these questions would require at least a PhD in Botany. However, I did discover that newfound fossils hint that flowering plants arose 100 million years earlier than scientists previously thought, suggesting flowers may have existed when the first known dinosaurs roamed Earth. Flowering plants are now the dominant form of plant life on land, evolving from relatives of seed-producing plants that do not flower, such as conifers and cycads. Peter Hochuli, a paleo botanist at the University of Zürich’s Paleontological Institute and Museum suggests:

“Flowering plants were the last group of plants appearing in Earth’s history. They are an extremely successful group on which all terrestrial ecosystems today depend, including the existence of humanity.”

We today are blessed with an abundance of flowers, offering rich colours to show their individual beauty to any passing traveller. To take individual flowers and create a work of floral art requires the skill, experience and creativity of the floral artist.

There are many styles of floral design, from the Ikebana, a Japanese or eastern style which is known for its simplicity of line and form. By contrast European style emphasises colour and a variety of botanical materials in mass gatherings.

Western design historically is characterised by symmetrical, asymmetrical, horizontal and vertical styles of arrangements.

You may be interested to know that the English-garden style is a popular and traditional form, which features abundant use of seasonal flowers and foliage placed in a radial fashion. These designs are often done as low, tufted mounds or taller vase arrangements that are multidimensional and incorporate garden flowers, such as peonies delphiniums and roses.

Ultimately, it is the creativity of the floral artist who decides which style will best show the particular flowers. Also, flowers may be arranged around a particular theme, like at our Floral Affair with its theme of ‘Wine and Roses.’ With the only limit being the imagination of the artist, which always knows no end.

The Bible mentions the blooming of flowers within a variety of contexts. A particular theme is flowers blooming and then fading away. This is applied by various writers to God’s presence remaining with us. Jesus also invites us to consider how lilies are not anxious, but just are, resting in the earth. Flowers can teach us about life and living.

I recall when I lived in the South Island, I had a rich variety of dahlias growing in my garden and I enjoyed them when they came into full bloom. When flowers are in full bloom, something happens inside of us. We delight in what we are seeing and sometimes their scent evaporates from the flower and touches our nose receptors.

Blooming is such a beautiful word; I recall that phrase ‘bloom were you are planted.’ I am having difficulty finding the origin of this phrase; nevertheless it does offer much for the journey. To bloom requires a healthy root system, feeding and supporting the new growth of fresh blooms of beauty.

What is your root system like, do you have encouragers around you, those half glass full people who can work cooperatively with you? For our perception of life and each other flows from our perception of ourselves. Is this world a friendly place or an unfriendly place? Do I have a place here in this world where I could blossom and bloom?

It is essential that during our blooming phase we use our energy to offer beauty and delight to encourage our fellow travellers along the journey with a word of encouragement.

We can’t always choose the cards we have been dealt, but we can learn to play them. Sometimes we have to make the best of our situations and bloom where we have been planted.

I recall a day in 1991 when I was on retreat at a Catholic Retreat Centre in North Otago while walking along a road near the beach; I saw this marigold flower growing through the asphalt at the side of the road. It was blooming were it had taken root. It might not have been the best place for a plant to grow, but it was nevertheless blooming.

To bloom were we are planted means we need to stop complaining and decide what we can actually change in life and what we cannot. As Maya Angelou (Poet & Author) said:

If you don’t like something, change it.

If you can’t change it,

change your attitude about it.

The words of the Serenity prayer made famous by Alcoholics Anonymous say the same thing:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference

If the situation cannot be changed, we must learn to rise above it. For what we tend to focus on, expands. Breathe energy into the positive things in your life and look for ways to be a blessing to somebody.

We often forget that our struggles and moments of pain have prepared us to be encourages for others who we meet also along the pathway of life. We each have something to offer as encouragement to another on the journey.

I invite you to bloom where you are planted. Even if you find yourself planted under some concrete at the moment, look for the crack in the concrete to find your way out. And despite all odds, choose to bloom anyway. I leave you with these words from John Wesley, founder of the Methodist church:

“Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

In all the places you can,

At all the times you can

To all the people you can

As long as ever you can!”

Now that is blooming were we are planted.

Meanwhile peace in our blooming

Meanwhile Peace

Alf