Wednesday, September 13, 2006

the lessons you have hidden in gladiolas

One of my dissapointments with my current employment is their lack for need for me to create anything beautiful. They don't want me to decorate a bulletin board, create a flier, design a craft project, or put stickers on mailings.

The one opportunity for some creativity is the gladiolas.

Mama Romano's favorite flowers are displayed in two wooden bucket-looking vases on islands in between the tables and booths at Romano's Macaroni Grill. Inside the bucket is a clear plastic disc with holes for all the flowers to go through so they are evenly spaced.

Sometimes I get to go back into the kitchen, take flowers out of the box they're shipped in, cut off the bottoms, trim the tops, and arrange them. It's not REALLY arranging since the holes in the discs leave few options, but still, I am interacting with something that's there just because it's beautiful.

Sometimes I meditate on the artificialness of taking cut flowers out of a box that were probably grown in a human-monitored environment, and putting them in a vase where sunlight will never reach them. Or on the fact that they're already dead and will just get deader, or on the fact that I must snap the tips off-- the little flowers-to-be that will never bloom because we already cut them off from their source of nutrition and life, and that because of us they will never bloom. Not only will they never bloom, we remove their non-bloomingness from our must-be-blooming arrangement.

But the other day I meditated on something else instead. These flowers have been through a lot. They have put in a lot of effort to grow from a tiny seed into a sturdy green stalk budding with gorgeous white flowers. They have been cut off at the base, packaged in newspaper, and jostled around in a box. They are being trimmed yet again. Despite all this, they are prevailing. They manage to blossom forth in an unfamiliar environment despite somewhat harsh treatment. Instead of exacting vengeance by refusing to bloom, they Grace-fully share their beauty with anyone who cares to notice. They bloom, even where they aren't planted. These flowers don't seem angry. They seem forgivingly and regretlessly alive.

I've been praying this prayer,

O Great Spirit
whose voice we hear in the winds,
and whose breath gives life to all the world,
hear us.
We come before you as your children.
We are small and weak; we need your strength and wisdom.
Let us walk in beauty and make our eyes ever behold the red and purple sunsets.
May our hands respect the things you have made, our ears be sharp to hear your voice.
Make us wise, so that we may know the things you have taught your people,
the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.
We seek strength not to be superior to our brothers and sisters,
but to live in harmony with ourselves and all of your creation.
Help us to be ever ready to come to you, so when life fades as a fading sunset,
our spirits may come to you without shame. Amen.

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