I attended three different Flower Communions this spring because I love the legacy of Norbert Capek, flowers and our UU rituals. At James Reeb UU Congregation, Rev. Darrel robed for the service, calling Flower Communion one of our "High Holy Days"! He had set up the chairs in the round, with a fabric-covered table in the center, complete with the Chalice, orchids and a few large vases full of water. We took our flowers up and made beautiful bouquets with them, then went up later to take a different flower. Wow! I'd never been to FC at a small congregation before, so didn't realize how creative one can be with the ritual elements.
The other two services were at my hUUge congregation, with choirs singing and the usual benches-facing-the-pulpit setup. But at the Saturday service, ushers sent baskets of flowers around so we could each take one. The usual Sunday thing is for the flowers to just be at the pulpit for folks to take if they want after the service ends, so that dispersing the flowers is not part of the ritual. The services where we took flowers and held and smelled them had more meaning to me, because grasping a flower that represents the beauty and uniqueness of a fellow human is much more profound than gazing at a bouquet from afar. It's important to me for rituals to be participatory -- open to all of us, no matter what.
When I was a little girl, I never liked watching the priest conduct an elaborate ritual to mix himself a drink that only he could have. I don't like unexplained, exclusionary rituals that don't ring true for me. Flower Communion, with its melding of natural beauty, community, inspiration, courage and justice is as real at it gets. Thank God for religious freedom and for those who gave their lives to uphold it.
One more note: Now that I've embraced the notion that a ritual is simply a repeated action that has a deeper meaning beyond the physical and has a beginning, a middle and an end, I have been empowered to celebrate and even create my own family rituals. (Learned this at the 2006 Meadville Lombard Winter Institute.)
A Sweet June Day to all,