the wisdom of flowers
“The world is full of painful stories. Sometimes it seems as though there aren’t any other kind and yet I found myself thinking how beautiful that glint of water was through the trees.”― Octavia Butler
For me, it has been flowers that have caught my eye and given me pause from the world’s painful stories this summer. Poet and potter M.C. Richards reminds me that “the world is always bigger than one’s own focus.” My world became bigger in each individual bloom.
“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Looking at the collage below, which of these blooms would be the “stereotypical” flower for you? If you could pick only one image to represent all flowers, which would it be?
Even among a single type— dahlias, for instance— there is great variety, as my friend Annamary taught me in her garden. Compare the “labyrinth” dahlias in the upper left corner to the “ball” dahlia in the center of the bottom row. They don’t even look like relatives. Or the rose in the upper right corner that came from the grocery store, and the rose on the bottom row, far right, a variety called “Kiss Me” that I found blooming in a local rose garden. And what about Hydrangea, Coreopsis, Joe Pye weed, and Sedum? Even taken all together, they are only an iota of the story of flowers.
“We need help developing the capacity to be able to listen to the very different stories of others with compassion; to have conversations across lines of real and perceived difference that help and heal, rather than hamper and hurt; and to exercise the will to come back for more, with increasing capacity for empathy and a deepening desire for others to heal and thrive in the world.”—Rhonda Magee
Can the Hydrangea understand the plight of the Sedum? Can the Zinnia have empathy for the Coreopsis? How would Joe Pye weed—a weed, after all—receive the story of the noble, Shakespearean Rose? And would the Rose offer compassion in return?
“To express oneself in art is to explore and even dissolve the edges of the ordinary; to penetrate resistance and tumble into mystery itself and be carried by it. It feels like a personal journey, but I believe it is the revelation of something deeply needed—in fact, something that belongs to all of us.”—Ruth King
May we each find our way to what is deeply needed and belongs to us all.
First row, from left to right: “Labyrinth” Dahlias; Hydrangea; Rose (sorry, I don’t know the variety). Second row: Coreopsis, Joe Pye weed, Zinnia. Third row: Sedum before bloom, “Ball” Dahlia, “Kiss Me” Rose.
If you want to spend more time with the blooms, you can go to the header image and click the arrow on right or left to scroll through the images in full screen size.