The practice of Ikebana, Japanese flower arranging, provides me with a retreat from my day-to-day activities. I find the practice very centering as it requires me to be very present as I balance each branch and flower.
When I first arranged these flowers I selected the black calla lily for it's unusual, rich color. I placed it in the center where you now see the yellow flower. After putting my arrangement up on the stage, my teacher said she was concerned about what I had done.
She noted that there was a lot of sorrow at the center of my arrangement and it I was doing a good job of covering it up. From out of nowhere I could feel a strong force of tears come up from my belly and flow out of my eyes like a fountain. It hit me so unexpectedly. I took a deep cleansing breath and...
moved closer to the arrangement. I pulled out the black calla and placed it at the base and replaced it with a sunny, yellow, cheery calla. I compared this process of Ikebana to the storytelling + collage workshop that I offer. In both collage and flower arranging, I work intuitively. When I step back and look at what I have created there is a story. In this case and often with collage, things surface that are very painful. It is important to acknowledge the painful stories - but like I did when I set aside the black one and tucked in the yellow, I the storyteller, decided that my story is not focused on the sorrow but on the sunshine and happiness in my life. The sorrow is still present but it is in now back in the shadows.
Yesterday, several days after creating this arrangement, we learned at work that a colleague's husband had died. It had been a struggle for a long time for the couple. A dear coworker of mine knew them for over 20 years and she was filled with so much sorrow.
I went home at lunch and pulled out three calla lilies to give my coworker. The black calla lily for her sorrow, the white for hope, and the lavender one to remind her that in her sorrow there is beauty. The beauty in remembering life.
Jamie Ridler did it again! Each Wednesday she poses a question and invites bloggers to share a response. Today she asks, "What do you wish to take a break from?" As I was working on these photos I realized how the practice of Ikebana provides me with a break from the busyness in life. My intentions for learning Ikebana is to enjoy the wonderful materials that I get to work with and to explore my reactions to the process. I ask another question, "What am I ready to let go of?" As my storytelling has taught me, I'm ready to let go of the sorrow. It will always be a story that is part of my life, but it will not be the focal point.
See where I take my Ikebana classes: Ikebana Flower, Nashua NH
Check out Creative Every Day to see how others are getting creative.
Learn more about my Storytelling + Collage workshop.