Saturday, 16 April 2016

The Spiritual Life is Like a Flower

The spiritual life is like a flower. These are words that came to me during my morning meditation last week. They came to me as I sat in the silence with others in the early hours of a cold April morning. Where they came from, well none of us knows, but I’m grateful that they did.

Now you may well ask, how is the spiritual life like a flower? It is a reasonable question to ask. Well in the following paragraphs I will attempt to explore this thoughts and feelings.

The first thing that comes to my heart and mind is that the spiritual life is about opening up, as a flower opens up. That to live spiritually is to open up and to continue opening up day after day, season after season and year after year. Just as the flower opens up to the light, so do we. How many times do we open up and reach for the morning light? Well an infinite number of times it would seem.

That said we not only open many times we close down and shrivel up many times too. We seemingly close in, shrivel up and fade away many times in our lives only to rise and open once again in a new spring time. The spiritual life is about opening up and closing back in before opening once again, over and over and over again...

The dance goes on…We dance together over and over again, in the garden of delights, the garden of life…

We are all of us like flowers in the garden of life. Each unique and yet similar. Each with something to offer if we grow and flower and be all that were born to be. Yes a flower looks beautiful when it stands alone. It has its own beauty and own unique qualities but it only truly becomes all that it is when it grows together with other flowers in the garden. It only truly becomes all that it is when it shares all that it is with all the other flowers in the garden of life.

It is the same with us and our lives. Yes we are all uniquely beautiful and we all have our own qualities but we only truly express them and experience them when we come together in love and share them with others, encouraging them to do likewise. The spiritual life is never truly experienced or expressed alone. These things only really come alive in company and communion with others. Each of us have something uniquely beautiful to offer one another, things that only truly flower when we share them with each other.

The spiritual life is not only like a flower, but like a flower garden…The spiritual life comes alive in the garden of life…The garden of delights…

The spiritual life is not experienced alone, it does not exist alone. It only comes alive when we share it with others. No one life is an island. We cannot thrive or survive alone. We are interconnected, much like life in a garden is interconnected.

Margaret Silf captured this thought near perfectly in “The Way of Wisdom”. She wrote:

"We belong, not merely to the created order of things, but in a great web of relationship, and interconnectedness, in which every particle is intimately interwoven with every other, and in which, in some mysterious way, each particle holds and reflects something of the totality. This makes a huge difference to the way we live. Every choice we make, every response we offer, every reaction we reveal has an effect on that web of being. We are made for relationship. The Wisdom of creation insists on it. No single creature can disengage from the dance of creation without jeopardizing the eternal beauty of that dance. We are indeed created to be 'we'. To opt for merely being 'I' is to opt out of the creative process itself. It is only in interrelationship that we have our being and our meaning."

In my eyes the beauty of this interconnectedness is portrayed near perfectly in the observation of flowers growing together with all that makes up the nature of a garden. Our lives and all life is like those flowers in the garden.

You see nothing in life is separate, everything is interconnected. If we damage one aspect of life we damage all life, just as if we begin to heal one aspect of life we begin to heal all life. Or to paraphrase Jesus “What you do to the least of them, you do to me.” Everything is interconnected, nothing lives separately from all life and I believe that is all connected by a Great Universal thread from which all life exists. I call this thread God.

True reverential spiritual living, an awareness of the sacred in everything helps us to recognise the importance of everything. It helps us see that everything matters. Every thought, every feeling, every word and every deed. It helps us recognise the intrinsic value of our own lives too. It reveals how we see life and how we live in life impacts on everything, including our own souls, our own beings. I am recognising this more and more as I live and breathe and enjoy my own being and that in which I live and breathe and share my being. In recent months as I have simply enjoyed walking round where I live I have felt more connected to the people and the nature that I pass and interact with. As my reverence and love for life has grown, so has my love for my own being too. This has helped to heal me in so many ways. It has allowed me to thrive and live and dance in the garden of life.

By observing flowers in a garden we can see clearly the interdependence of all life…The life in which we live and breathe and share our being…

Flowers can become and expression of spiritual practice. Below are two observations that show how flowers can help us to develop and grow spiritually.

Tom Cowan suggest a way to develop forgiveness and healing through flowers. He says:

“Buy a special vase and name it your "Forgiveness Vase." Whenever someone offends or insults you, buy or pick some flowers and place them in the vase. Every day that the flowers are still fresh, say a prayer of forgiveness for the person who hurt you. When the flowers have died, let your own desire for revenge die with them.”

By Tom Cowan in "The Way of the Saints"

Jose Hobday made this rather lovely observation about flowers, stating…

“Every time I saw the flower, I could see it giving its life for me and I could imagine my prayer being carried to God. That was true even when I was elsewhere and was just thinking about the flower. Either way, I had a strong sense my prayer was being heard. My flower and I were in union.

Sometimes it took a few days, sometimes a couple of weeks. When the flower finally died, I would take it outside, say good-bye to it, and thank it for giving its life for me and for delivering my prayer. Then I would bury it so it would have a chance at a new life, and I always hoped it would come back as an even nicer flower.

Taken from "Stories of Awe and Abundance" by Jose Hobday

So the next time you get a cut flower, imagine that it is carrying a prayer for you and for all those in whom you share this life, those others who live in this beautiful garden of life, the garden of delights.

The spiritual life is like a flower. I do not know where that thought came from, what its source was, who or what planted the seed and allowed it to nurture and grow, but I am glad that it came to me in the silence, that I shared with others that cold April morning. I have my thoughts on its origins as I am sure you who read this little "blogspot" do too, but none of us really know and I’m pretty sure none of us ever will. I don’t think that it matters really. The key is, I have come to believe, that I accept this gift, nurture and love it and allow it grow and of course share it with others so that we can all grow together in the garden of life, the garden of delights.

I will end with this prayer poem by June Cotner.

"I believe in Gaia the Mother All-tender,
Earth Spirit, maker of gardens,
and in her sons and daughters,
the trees and plants of four seasons.
I believe in the white lilies
and red ranunculus of summer,
and in their seeds.
I believe in the pears and apples of autumn,
the pumpkins, the blue-gray squashes
that nourish our bodies with their meat,
our spirits with their beauty.
I believe in the holly of winter
whose needling leaves and red berries
unite the green of Gaia to the blood of Christ.
I believe in the crocus and tulips of spring
whose petals open like sacred chalices
from which all may drink the joy of the garden."


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