Ikebana

By Carolyn Brock of Independence, Missouri, USA

Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. …But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.  James 3:13, 17–18

One rather-stressful day I wearily climbed the Worshiper’s Path in the Temple in Independence, Missouri. I stopped for a moment of mindful attention at the ikebana arrangement and found myself slowly drawn into a space of healing and beauty.

It was as though I never had seen flowers before—their shapes, colors, and fragrances captivated me. I reverently touched petals and leaves and was drawn to wonder at the perfection of everything from the tiniest grain of pollen to the pebbles in the flat container of clear water. I wept as the flowers offered me their gift of grace and rest.

On several occasions I have watched the creation of an ikebana arrangement during a worship experience. Under the eyes and hands of the flower artist, the singular branches, pods, and blooms are cut and placed in a pattern meant to mirror harmony among sky, humans, and Earth. A community of color, form, and balance is created.

If only creating peace and justice in God’s weary world were as elegant and easy. Perhaps it would help to think of ourselves as being held in the hands of God, who trims unnecessary “stuff” from our lives and places us in right relationship with one another. We do not stand alone. When we yield our separateness, our individual efforts, to the Spirit, we can be brought together in a community that mirrors harmony and justice in the manner designed of God.

Prayer for Peace:

God of flowers, sky, and earth, balance us in your living water. May we leave room in our arrangement of life for the eye to rest and the breeze to blow. May we trim the “stuff” that hinders us from sharing Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Making Responsible Choices

Each day this week prayerfully seek God’s guidance in your choices. Discernment invites us to orient our lives toward God and God’s vision for us and creation. Begin by reviewing the responsibilities and opportunities in the day before you. Take these choices into prayer, asking God for wisdom and insight about what matters most.

Offer yourself to God with the prayer of Teresa of Avila: “God, what do you want of me today?” Sit prayerfully with this question as you review the day again. Be aware of images, thoughts, names, or actions that come to you. Ask for a blessing to live this day responsibly and compassionately in the spirit of Christ.     

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will pause to learn from the flowers.

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