I brought home flowers and they all opened. Immediately.
The flowers I am writing about are the tulips. The orchid next to them was an anniversary gift I gave my husband, and it has been blooming since I purchased it, a week before our anniversary in August. This gift foreshadowed another gift: the job Will would get, embodied by the the large pink orchid. It is on loan from Will’s employer, Seattle Orchid. They will only sell perfect flowers (and can I say they are stunning flowers!) so they lent us this one, which was missing a bud (Will had to point it out to me – I couldn’t see it). I was walking yesterday, in hopes of wearing off some melancholy and saw the tulips at the Pike Place Market. I give my husband flowers as gifts. I was thinking of him when I saw them, and had five dollars I did not need. So I bought $5 worth of tulips.
The vases are wine bottles, wrapped in raffia. Not just any wine bottles. These are from our wedding, and graced the tables with a dahlia silkscreen design of Will’s grandmother that we pulled. Our friends helped supply us with their empty bottles (that’s what friends are for) and we scrubbed off the labels and tied raffia around them to make them pretty. They were set on the tables by our families and friends, helping us prepare for the celebration of a promise we made to spend our lives together. Our wedding, for us, was as much a celebration of the people who we love and who love us, of whom we are so blessed to have in our lives. A more beautiful day I could not fathom.
The bottles were on our balcony for a bit, for the winter. The raffia got a touch tattered. Life’s been rough (as it will be) and I know there have been times that Will and I felt weathered with life and each other. Weather has sun and rain, warmth and cold, but I digress. This is a sunny time for us. The bottles didn’t break under the weather. I cleaned and disinfected the bottles, filled them with water, and then put the tulips in.
The tulips were purchased and carried home closed. An hour later, the petals were opening.
Of course the flowers would open when placed in such a loving context.
I find myself seeking and finding symbolism in every day life. You could call that “superstitious”. Fair enough. Small coincidences give me hope in the same way that rituals comfort me. They are both invented signs of continuity which serve to structure some meaning in my life. I am still figuring out my beliefs relating to any deity, but I would say that any god that makes sense to me is an implicit one, not an explicit one.
As UU’s, I would say that we are open and honest regarding our invention of symbols and rituals. Perhaps there is something about tulips that I don’t know, that the warmth of the indoors motivates them to open in ways the cold Pike Place Market wouldn’t. I do love that Unitarian Universalism is a faith which permits its adherents to look around the world and make sense of it on their own, to cultivate the awe in the everyday without having to have the answers. Cold atheism does not permit the awe of the flowers blooming. Perhaps you can tie it to biology, but I posit that there is more to explaining the world than science. My spirituality may be confused, but it exists, growing and blooming.
Unitarian Universalism gets accused of having a flaky theology. Frankly, I find the openness to possibility more likely to lead one to Truth than a religion that has all the answers. Any religion requires you to rely on the human interpreters to get it right. Even science, which also claims to be the way to answers, is also subject to human failing and, in some cases, deliberate fraud. As long as it is a system of knowledge that people created (read: all of them), it is inherently flawed. I cannot have all the answers. Neither can you. I wish I did. I wish you did as well, but we are limited in our humanity. I think this acknowledgment is the strength of UUism. My faith lets me pray thankfully when tulips open in my wedding vases, with an intuitive understanding that does not fit science. That is fine. Being UU does not confine my thought or human experience.
Of course, life turns around and reminds me not to get too sentimental. If I am going to make signs in everything, I should note that I awoke this morning to find one of the tulips had been chewed to pieces, the likely culprit my kitten. So it goes…