Flower Communion   2 comments

I participated in my first Flower Communion this morning at White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church, which coincides in our congregation with New Member Sunday.  On New Member Sunday, the new members who have joined since the previous summer are invited to come as a group to the front of the church and be formally introduced to the congregation, receiving a public welcome in return.

I didn’t really understand fully about this “flower communion” but knew that we were all asked to bring flowers we had bought, flowers we had picked from our gardens, or flowers we had plucked from alongside the road.  These were to be put in communal vases at the front of the church.  I told Dale before he left on his trip to China that I wanted to bring some peonies from our bush in the front yard.  That bush was from Dale’s mother’s peony bush in Hibbing and has fared well in our front yard in St. Paul.   Dale remarked, “Mom would like that.”  I took two red blossoms and one pink blossom to the service this morning (the white ones were dropping all their petals) and placed them with all the other flowers that people had brought.

In essence, Reverend Victoria explained the tradition of Flower Communion today.  She paraphrased these sentiments:

Flower Communion is usually held in the spring. Each member of the congregation is asked to bring a fresh flower to the service, which they place it in a large vase upon arriving. The flowers are consecrated by the minister during the service. Upon leaving the church, each person takes a flower other than the one they had brought.

Flower Communion was created by Norbert Capek (1870-1942), who founded the Unitarian Church in Czechoslovakia, and was first celebrated in 1923. The symbolic meaning of the ritual is generally understood as follows (though individuals are, of course, free to find their own meaning in it.

The significance of the flower communion is that as no two flowers are alike, so no two people are alike, yet each has a contribution to make. Together the different flowers form a beautiful bouquet. Our common bouquet would not be the same without the unique addition of each individual flower, and thus it is with our church community, it would not be the same without each and every one of us. Thus this service is a statement of our community.

By exchanging flowers, we show our willingness to walk together in our Search for truth, disregarding all that might divide us. Each person takes home a flower brought by someone else – thus symbolizing our shared celebration in community. This communion of sharing is essential to a free people of a free religion.  (http://www.uua.org/documents/zottolireginald/flowercommunion.pdf)

Just before the end of the service, we all formed a circle at the perimeter of the room.  Reverend Victoria and a handful of volunteers took flowers at random and gave them to each person in the circle.  I was given quite a fistful that included some “crazy dasies” in bright hues of purple and green.  My friend, Miranda, was gifted with a perfect small pink rose as part of her flowers.  There were folks in the circle who went home with Mom’s peonies today.  I coveted Miranda’s small pink rose, and once out in the parking lot, she gave it to me and asked for some wild green “crazy daisies” in return.  It made me smile.

I stopped and bought a bouquet of bright flowers on the way home to replace the wilted ones in the vase by Katie’s wall portrait.  Those bright blossoms mirror the joy she brought to my heart and my life during her almost-17 years on Earth.

Symbolism is just that, not a thing unto itself but a gentle reminder in our lives of the ideals we hold and the people we cherish.  As I appreciate those flowers in my home this week, I will be drawn back to the concept of community, of sharing, and how we all come together to create something beautiful in this world.

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Posted June 12, 2011 by StPaulieGrrl in spirituality

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2 responses to “Flower Communion

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  1. I just wanted to say thank you. Reading this made me smile. Over the weekend I read through so many comments filled with hatred, an inability to empathize, rejection, and, well, just plain nastiness! It’s so nice to listen to someone’s simple wish for community and a sense of bonding. It lifted my spirits, and while you had no way of knowing I’d just been through three days of pain, was exactly what I needed: to smile and feel that warmth run through me. Ps: I put a flower each in my peony arrangement for Katie and Buddy – all pink, my favorite!

  2. I’m really touched that you found some joy and comfort in this post, as I found it by participating in this service. As you said, it is a focus on the positive, on the commonalities, and yes, on the differences but how those differences can be respected and blended to create a enriching environment. I derive so much benefit from this emphasis on what we can do right rather than what is everyone doing wrong. My couple of hours yesterday at WBUUC allowed me some personal time to think about those things.

    And thank you so much for thinking of Katie and Bubba as you arranged your peonies! It helps to know that you’re thinking about us and wishing us well.

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