Enter the Unknown
My fingers gently nudge the loose flower petals into various arrangements on the round table. I had no grand design in my mind when I started this creation at 8:15 this morning.
But now, fifteen minutes later, I look down at this arrangement and I see a clear pattern is forming.
How did this get here? I’m totally surprised by what I see on the table.
Earlier this morning at 7:45, I’d closed the hotel door behind me, dressed for the day with my name badge for the conference classes set to begin at 9am. I had in hand my small backpack with a snack and a water bottle, along with a few fears and insecurities about what I was about to do.
The schedule had listed the 8am early bird activity as “Flower Meditation.” It offered “a chance to breathe, to feel good in our bodies, and make gorgeous art together to start the day.”
I couldn’t resist the invitation. Yet I was still anxious about it. I had no idea of the location of the Ontario Room in this huge Hyatt Regency here in Chicago. I didn’t know if fifty other participants would show up or just me. I didn’t know what the instructor would expect from us, or even what “flower meditation” could possibly be.
I only knew that this three-day conference had been intense, as my life had been the past several months, and I could use this nourishing break in the schedule.
When you give consent to enter the unknown (and even when you don’t volunteer for it), you can’t predict what you’ll discover at your arrival. Maybe something good, maybe something difficult. It’s the chance you take.
Playing with Flowers
Our instructor Kia, a small, calm woman (I later find out she’s also an environmental scientist and a yoga instructor), walks around each table in this small room to view our flower arrangements.
Kia had earlier demonstrated to us how to make a flower mandala. She stripped the flower petals off a bouquet and played with the pieces, creating a beautiful design of color and texture.
Now with my own stems of flowers in hands, I’d begun by slightly imitating her design. But as I continued to pull apart the flowers, I let go of any preconceived notions and just played.
I think that was the point.
Kia says she recycles old flowers for this meditative practice. She picks up dying bouquets from events or flower shops, and hands them out in her workshops.
I never thought of doing such a thing.
It pains me to tear apart a flower. Sitting with the mess, with the dying, I am uncomfortable. I glance around at the three other participants doing the same thing.
But we each eventually find our rhythm. Our faces are lighting up. Our flower mandalas are forming beneath our fingertips.
No Understanding Required
I decide I need an opening in my flower mandala. I don’t want it to be a closed circle. It needs an outlet. I spread out the top pieces.
That’s when I see it, this shape I’ve created. The center is no longer a circle at all.
In the middle, I’d unconsciously created a teardrop with the pink rose petals.
I hadn’t known I was mirroring my inner self.
Beyond the teardrop, I keep the circle open at the top, implying room for future movement, not stagnant closure. That it won’t always be this way. That I won’t always be this way.
While I can’t remove the deep wound I carry from a horrific loss I’ve experienced, I can still move forward in productive and meaningful ways. I remain alive to rearrange the pieces.
- I can still show up in interesting spaces.
- I can still attend to my breath, in and out.
- I can still listen to and grow with the people beside me.
I don’t have to understand or predict how Love works. I just trust it to be so.
Everything changed before. Everything will change again. This is life.
One Moment to the Next
Kia looks at the clock. It’s almost 9 a.m. She tells us it is time to leave. She has another idea, a spontaneous activity, for us to try next, outside of this small, plain corner room in this large, gorgeous hotel. (That activity is another story—read about it here: If It’s Only Temporary, Is It Worth It?)
But what about our flower creations? She says we will leave them behind. Walk away.
We look back for one more glance, snapping quick phone photos of our flower mandalas and of each other (how did we become fast friends in less than an hour?), then we do as Kia asks.
We walk away.
Our beautiful artwork remains on the tables, alone, yet ready to surprise anyone who happens to walk by today.
And by evening? Someone will eventually come in and clear the tables. All the dead flower petals will be swept into a trash can, ready to be transformed again into still something else.
Life is impermanent. Yet we humans continue to accept temporary invitations to piece together beauty from ashes, joy from sorrow, life from death—yes, even from dead flowers.
It’s both a mystery and a miracle, this unexplainable urge to create that rises up inside us, knowing that our creations won’t last forever. We birth life anyway.
Leaving the meeting room, I walk forward with my new friends into the spacious hallway of the hotel to head towards the conference center together. Our purpose in this moment is complete. We let it go.
We now move forward to the next.
This post is my monthly update on my One Word 2023, Human. I continue to discover more and more beauty and awe in our delicate yet resilient humanness. You, too?
Read more on Human:
- Part 2 of Flower Mandalas: If It’s Temporary, Is It Worth It?
- Are You Offended? Next Time I’ll Keep Mine in Check
- When You Can’t Offer a Guarantee, Cry About It
- Feeling Smart? Not Exactly
- Grace & Truth Linkup October 13-19
- When You Can’t Fix the World, What Can You Do?