the language of flowers

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“The earth laughs in flowers.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

A little while ago I typed this question into google: “what is the purpose of a flower?”  Interestingly, most of the links that came up talked about the scientific purpose of a flower in the process of reproduction and pollination.  In fact, many of the articles said that the “sole purpose” of a flower is for reproduction for the plant.  Of course, on a scientific level, that is true!  But if I were to ask you what the purpose of a flower is, would that be the first thing that would come to mind?  I find that to be a rather sterile view of the world (never mind the irony).  Surely art has something of value to say to us and not science only.  I was a little surprised that nothing about the cheering effect of flowers was mentioned.  Or their smell.  How about the way they are used to make perfumes?  Or the fact that they have long been acknowledged to have medicinal and therapeutic benefits?

My little Phoebe-girl loves picking flowers and creating little bouquets and arrangements.  I asked Brandon to make her a flower press so she can begin keeping them in a more lasting way.  Maybe it’s just my quest for permanence, my longing to hold onto these fragile days that are blooming and fading so quickly.  How these kids are growing!  How I cannot seem to hold them down and keep them still and just this way for just one minute.  To keep Noah just as he is, trotting out of bed early in the morning, always playing “lion” and referring to himself as the lion (such as, “the lion wants a snack,” and “lions don’t like thunder,” etc.).  Or this game that phoebe and noah play together frequently called “boswell” where noah is the cat, boswell, and phoebe is his owner and walks him around on a “leash.”  Or how philippa is talking up a storm and constantly bowling us over with her personality, always trying to keep up with phoebe and noah, loving to read the “fock” (fox) book every night (“I love you Because You’re You”).

These days are so weary and exhausting and full and busy just with the simple work of running a household and keeping everyone fed and happy, and then all of a sudden everyone has grown again and I just want to hold everything down for a minute and keep it still so I can take it in.  But the days just keep going, time just keeps ticking away.  I suppose thats part of why I snap so many pictures, this quest to hold onto these days and not forget them.

Anyway, as for the press, Brandon made it for phoebe this past weekend and she loves it!  She felt pretty special that daddy made something just for her, and she has been busy pressing flowers.  I want to get her a little simple journal where she can glue the flowers in, but she also may make some cards with them for thank you notes and such.  It’s a simple thing, but one that I think helps her pay attention to the natural world around her, the beautiful things that God created not just for the holy work of reproduction, but also for the holy work of beauty.  I can’t wait to use the flower press as a way for Phoebe to begin a nature journal and as a way for her to catalog different plant species in the future for educational purposes.  But for now, I want her to pay attention to and simply enjoy the beauty she finds around her.

He created our souls to be moved and affected by beautiful things.  It’s why we give flowers to someone who is grieving.  It’s why we bring flowers to someone who just had a baby or who accomplished something great.  It’s why we spend a fortune on fresh blooms for a wedding, sprinkling them all around, signifying new life is beginning.  It’s why a girl gets a fresh bouquet and immediately breathes them in deep.

Beauty has a high and holy power to turn our heads and turn our hearts.  It is a beam, a shaft of light in the dark, and if we trace the beam back to the source, we see the beautiful God whose incredible mind created all of us and all of this, and we sing, Glory!

Last weekend my soul was aching to get up into the mountains, to escape the heat wave we’ve been suffering through, and also just to feel like we got away a bit from the house and our ordinary routines.  We went with my parents for a picnic on Sunday afternoon to nearby Craggy Gardens.  After dinner Noah kept begging us to go for a hike, so we meandered through one of the little hiking trails, walking slow, looking for things to wonder over, exploring and discovering, and phoebe collecting treasures, of course.  Feathers, rocks, found string, pretty leaves, flowers.  I find her little treasures all over the house, tucked in pockets, drawers, baskets.  Fancy that, how to a child, every little thing can be heavy with significance and beauty and purpose.

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(If you want to make your own flower press, some simple instructions can be found here or this is a cute one for purchase if you don’t have a handy man around.  The book I snapped pictures of is this one here, a seasonally organized simple craft book using everyday items found around the house.)

 

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