Sunday, November 26, 2006

A Little Soul Food, you won't need a fork.

“If thou of fortune be bereft,
and in thy larder be but left
two loaves, sell one, and with the dole
buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.”

I was in the presence of a medical professional this week who had recently been the patient herself. She had received flowers during her stay in the hospital. She had them in her office, they were bright and colorful and cheerful. Though, has anyone seen flowers that weren't cheerful, providing that they weren't near the point of self made potpourri ? There were a few blossoms on their way to that very end, but still it was a reminder of well wishes and the intent to be comforting. Sending flowers isn't an obligation.

She knows that I've spent my career, nearly 28 years as a floral designer. I believe in the power of flowers. What's more, I told her so. I believe she was taken aback when I said to her, “So you have no soul, or is your soul so well fed that you don't need food for it?” Her eyebrows tilted in the direction that tells you that you have pushed a button and now she wondered where I was headed.
I told her that even if I weren't a floral designer, if I had never been one of those people standing on concrete day in and day out creating joy and comfort on behalf of others, I believe that I would still be one to rush to the local flower shop when I knew that someone was hurting and that they needed the comfort of not just a close friend but the comfort of the gift that would linger as evidence of that care. I couldn't stop there in my, “sermon”, or rather, my lesson.

She did look at me and say, “I've never thought of flowers as soul food, they are aren't they? I've always thought of them as wasteful and unnecessary.”

I told her that flowers aren't usually considered food for our bodies, though you can eat some of them, but at some point in time, a great many veggies will bloom, hence the source of seed. Some varieties can produce fiber that can be made into clothing, but even they bloom, and chances are the blossom is the part that we use. But the real purpose of flowers is to feed that part within us that we cannot reach by hand, cannot spoon feed, nor can we wrap it in warm clothes. So often in our pain, sorrow and disappointment the only thing that we can feed is our soul, flowers are one of the basic food groups.

I recited the poem above, (I wish I knew who wrote it,) the color drained from her face, but was quickly restored as her smile brought it back. “Repeat that for me and let me write it down, “ she said. I did. “You have taught me a lesson that I have never given consideration to, you are absolutely right.”

“There's another consideration too, “ I added, “if you are a person of faith and I believe that you are, then you have to consider the model that is presented in the very seed, we put it in the ground, it 'descends into hell,' if you will, and it rises again in glory.” By this time I had touched a place deep within her.

“You are right, it is a reminder.”

We went on with my appointment, and afterward as we were walking from her office she said to me, “Thank you, you have taught me a great lesson and I will never think of flowers as a waste again, in fact, I hope that I get more soon.”

“Buy them for someone else, even a single bloom, the least expensive there is will not only feed the soul of another, but yours as well.”

It's easy right now for me to get to the point of tears, a lot has happened this year that justifies them they aren't all the tears of sadness, but at every turn for me there are flowers, flowers that remind me of these very lessons, the lesson of the poem and the lesson that comes from a reminder that flowers are a symbol of the resurrection. Sometimes the lesson of the flowers has to stick me in the finger when a rose bites me I always smell it, but I take the pain without thinking of it as any more than the reminder that I should look more closely, breath in the beauty of them. There are other soul foods too, (like I said, flowers are just one of the basic food groups), music, art, friendship and the arts that are not made of stone, metal, paper or paint. “...buy hyacinths to feed they soul.” It's good advice really, trust me on this. This isn't an advertisement, but how I really feel about what the “hippies” of the 1960's called Flower Power.

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