How summer offers ways for your prayers to bloom.
Posted in , Jun 18, 2018
Spring and summer supply a beautiful opportunity to pray in new ways, and one of those ways is to pray with flowers.
The use of flowers to communicate different sentiments has largely disappeared in our day, but the rich symbolism of different flowers can add color to your prayers. For example, at the beginning of 17th century England, when Shakespeare wrote Hamlet, flowers meant more than simple decoration; many communicated a symbolic message. Thus, when poor Ophelia mourns her murdered father, she says:
There's rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts….There’s fennel for you, and columbines. There's rue for you, and here's some for me. We may call it herb of grace o' Sundays. O, you must wear your rue with a difference! There's a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they wither'd all when my father died. They say he made a good end (Hamlet, Act 4, Scene 5).
It all seems a little strange, even crazy, to us, but to the play’s first audiences her words would have been rich with meaning. She explained (to her brother) why she gave him rosemary and pansies. Fennel was the symbol for flattery and columbine for deceived or faithless lovers. Rue symbolized bitterness, and daisies innocence, while violets signified loyalty and faithfulness.
So how might a person pray with flowers today? The possibilities are as varied as a garden, but here are a few ideas:
1) Pray as you plant.
You may want to research the traditional symbolism of various flowers (such as those above), or you may want to assign your own meaning to each kind of flower as you plant—for instance, praying for innocent children as you plant daisies and for family members as you plant forget-me-nots. Or you might ask God for health as you plant aloe and for a loving heart as you plant carnations.
2) Pray according to color.
Traditionally, white flowers (such as daisies or white violets) signified innocence, red (such as a red rose, tulip, or chrysanthemum) indicated love, and a yellow carnation or rose sometimes meant disdain or rejection.
3) Pray as you arrange.
In creating a centerpiece arrangement for your table or a bouquet for a friend, why not utter a prayer with each flower or plant that you put in place?
4) Pray as you give.
Much as some people light a candle as a form of prayer for someone else, you might give a flower to someone as a form of prayer, whether you explain your prayer or keep it to yourself. You might even mail a dried flower or a packet of seeds to someone as a prayer.
5) Use a flower as a prayer aid.
Some people pray with beads, as a way of reminding them or focusing their thoughts. Similarly, you might pluck the petals from a daisy, praying for a different person as you pluck each one. Or use each new blossom on your house plant as a reminder to pray for someone you love.
6) Pray with others.
Invite friends over for tea or a meal and have each person bring a flower that expresses a prayer of his or her heart.
Praying with flowers can be beautiful—and fragrant way to pray. Try it, share it, and let prayer bloom in your life this year.