Earlier this month, my caregiver and I went to a local friend’s Unitarian Universalist church – where we were able to participate in their yearly tradition of the flower communion.
During the ceremony, everyone brings a flower and places it in a basket or vase. After a small reflection, everyone returns to receive a flower different from what they placed. This tradition was started by Norbert Čapek in 1923.
While the basket full of flowers looked incredibly beautiful, I found the symbolism much more lovely – each flower beautiful in its own right and developed in its own pace.
I loved the message it brings of community – and life in general. Everyone is different, and that difference is to be celebrated and cherished. It’s beautiful to be accepted as you are, all of yourself.
As I held my flower, I studied it with my senses. I am autistic after all, and my sensory system helps me take in each moment.
The fragrance, softness of the flower itself, the strength of the stem – it gave me great joy.
After the service, it amused me to see all the petals that had fluttered to the ground. It was a gentle reminder to enjoy being in the moment. Flowers aren’t around forever, but the joy they give us while they’re here is wonderful.
Čapek himself understood this well. Arrested and sent to a concentration camp due to his writings and listening to “outside” news during WWII, he took solace in his ideals and in peace. His writings were interwoven throughout the service.
For myself, the most impactful refrain was this: “My life was worth living.”
And indeed it was.
Growing up, I had a lot of trauma connected to church and religion. Because of that, I was a bit scared to attend. When I went in though, I immediately felt at ease. Turns out Unitarian Universalism is very different from any “church” I’ve ever experienced before – and far more affirming. The emphasis on acceptance and value of all life (regardless of background, race, gender, sexuality, etc) was incredibly soothing.
Watching the pure celebration of life and its cycles is something wonderful.