The city of Tokyo began imposing pandemic restrictions just as Japan’s most awaited season arrived. In early spring, groups of families, friends, and co-workers normally gather in parks to drink and picnic under fleeting cherry blossoms. At my local Inokashira park, all such places were taped off. Signs screamed: No access, and no gathering. Instead of socializing under the cherry blossoms, I chased floral motifs on drain hole covers for a while. Still, I needed fresh flowers to truly cope with lockdowns and isolation.
Flowers have some magnetic power over me. One of my earliest childhood memories includes pulling over on the side of the road so I could pick yellow and pink lantanas. In the summer after high school, my parents gifted me a month-long course in floral design. From those lessons, I have arranged flowers for countless family events. While I was in Japan, I took a few ikebana classes to diversify my style. In that long slow, first COVID spring, I began buying flowers more often. I bought flowers for myself and shared arrangements with friends. I bought them to keep my spirit alive.
We humans have a special relationship with flowers. Flowers are known to create long and short-term positive effects on mood. Since records are available, flowers have been used at celebrations of life milestones. Michael Pollan writes eloquently on how flowers have used us to spread their reach. Across the globe, writers and poets have long found inspiration in flowers.
While it is lovely to have arrangements of fancy flowers, just the momentary appreciation of a flower is a look into the divine.
In The Doors to Perception, Aldous Huxley writes, “That what rose and iris and carnation so intensely signified was nothing more, and nothing less, than what they were – transience that was yet eternal life, a perpetual perishing that was at the same time pure Being, a bundle of minute, unique particulars in which, by some unspeakable and yet self-evident paradox, was to be seen the divine source of all existence.”
Since the pandemic shut us into smaller quarters, and without as many social gatherings, the entire flower industry has been up-ended. It is with this backdrop that I was invited to teach a community course in floral design. I whole-heartedly crafted a course to make design accessible to anyone. I am grateful to have a place to share this life-enriching practice. Simply by taking the time to appreciate this natural beauty, we can nourish our souls.
My simple reminder is this poem I wrote, A Rose Meditation.
A Rose Meditation
If you cannot touch God’s beauty in your heart
Let a rose meditation be your start
When she tickles your nose, be sure
It is the path to know God’s art.
In her fragrant kiss, she might leave
A small yellow trace of her embrace,
A reminder we need to slow our pace.
Under her spell, we feel dignity and grace
All God’s creation has a place.
Please enjoy nature’s original art! Thank you for reading.