Monday, August 19, 2013

Bringing nature home

"A room is never at its best without flowers. Flowers show that a home is cared for and truly lived in. While furniture can remain the same for years, flowers speak to the present moment. And yet they are a talisman, a reminder of the world beyond our doors, of growth and change, and the passage of time. They are fleeting pleasures."  from Bringing Nature Home by Ngoc Minh Ngo.
I don't know much about flower arranging. I mean what is this or that style called? Japanese minimalist? Polly's posies? I don't know. I only know the names of a few flowers and shrubs. I'm likely to describe a licorice plant as that plant with the thick, viney, trailing stems with fuzzy, kinda white-ish leaves. I just put things in vases. I learned by looking through this book that my style is a meadowy look - bouquets of colorful shapes and sizes, crammed together, over-flowing -  tumultuous, bountiful. Rather like my cooking that I call Peasant Style; pretty simple and a lot.  But there are other ways.
The dictionary reminds me that a talisman is an object thought to have magical powers. This book inspired me to take a walk around our yard looking for magic. What could make simple beauty if I brought it inside? What could I find that was simple, graceful and made from less rather than more. I wonder what you have outside your back door? I stole a single blue hydrangea from Anita's prized shrub. To go with it I clipped some licorice plant stems from overgrown pots. The faint white shades of the leaves put the single blue flower in relief. Three mint blossoms on arching stems gave it a little lift. Their soft, brush-shaped flowers contrasted with the precise hydrangea petals. I pulled an antique water pitcher off the shelf for a vase. I left it here on Anita's bureau.
I was happy with this small way to express joy. At the same time, flowers make me sad because they don't last and I think a lot about this. They drop messy pollen all over the place, their petals shrivel and fall off, and have you ever smelled flower water? It STINKS like dog shit after a few days.  I've spent a long time thinking about what it means when Isaiah says "The grass withers, the flower fades," (Is. 40:8) and I know he is talking about us. Human lives. We are so here for a little while, then we are gone. This is distressing.  I used to wonder, then, what it meant that when Isaiah finishes the thought with "But the word of our God stands forever." Is that supposed to comfort me? Well, yes. Yes it should. That's because, as so often happens with Scripture, it coheres. It interprets itself. So when Peter writes: "For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, 'All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.' " (I Peter 1:23-25)
So yes, flowers have their fleeting pleasures with reminders of a world beyond our doors and it is no small thing to bring them in and to love their glory. We can, I mean we are allowed, to think of them as we ourselves fade and we are no longer at the peak of our game, as if I ever was, but I have this: this promise, because of Jesus, I am re-born of imperishable seed and one day I shall be restored to a kind of eternal beauty. He will make it so. Really, he will. My faltering steps rest on it.


Denis Haack said...

Lovely bit of insight into life, and into our life that we share here at Toad Hall. It's why I feel more creative and less stressed when there is at least one flower on my desk.

joie said...

yes. yes. yes indeed...To flowers and the need for them in a room but also to eternal beauty and the glory of the one who is bringing that to pass.
I volunteer every Friday at one of the local "foodnet" sites in town. It is a way for people to get food that has been donated by groceries stores around town so that expiring items don't have to go to waste. As part of volunteering we get to enjoy some yummy things, and it helps provide for us throughout the week. One of the things we frequently enjoy are fresh flowers. Last week I wasn't sure I was going to be able to make it. Was I sad about not being able to bring home some food? A little. Was I more sad about the thought of not having flowers to put around the house. YES. I made it to food net. Flowers , a little touch of beauty, are a good way to motivate me. :)

Kathleen Bristley said...

Beautiful post. I am reminded of a nineteenth-century practice, in some biographies I've read, of people bringing home from tromps in the woods bits of bark, mosses, ferns, and flowers, and creating little "scenes" they would then somehow hang on a wall.

Margie Haack said...

Denis, thank you!

Joie, I think it is wonderful that flowers are included, not just food.

Kathleen, your comment is really interesting to me - the connection to the 1800s. Last night I was in Mpls and noticed the dashboard of a parked car that made me smile. -The owner had covered (glued) newspaper as a background and then had constructed a natural scene from one end to the other with moss, wood, small stones, preserved flowers, a small pond (not real water :) ) - how different that might make me feel when stuck in traffic? Calmer? Less stressed?

Thanks for sharing.

Kathleen Bristley said...

Cool idea. . . I think I actually might do that in my 20 yr. old Altima! The cultural mandate extends to dashboards!

PW said...

Beautiful words and floral arrangement, Margie.

sf said...

Gorgeous flowers!