The Flower Ceremony

Yesterday at church I learned about the Unitarian Flower Ceremony. I went to church knowing that everyone would put flowers in a big arch, and I knew that, moreover, this Sunday was going to include a Dedication of Children (which is what Unitarians do instead of baptism.)

What I did not know was that Norbert Capek, the Prague minister who created the Flower Ceremony, was martyred in Dachau. I did not know that, while imprisoned by the Nazis, he held flower ceremonies in the camp. I did not know that his fellow inmates picked blades of grass, and weeds, and brought them to the circle in the yard and celebrated the beauty in life in the middle of Dachau.

And then, after I learned this, I watched a couple hundred people – children, families, older people — steadily walk up to the arch and the front of the church and leaves flowers. And after the arch was full of flowers the congregation welcomed three kids to the community.

Why, yes, Gentle Reader, I was most certainly crying.

When I was younger, I did not understand *at all* why things like this made old folks tear up. I was explaining it a bit to my kids in the car on the way home and they both have the glorious insouciance of childhood. They do not get why happy things make older people choke up.

Which, I suppose, is all to the good. There’s plenty of time for understanding to come later, when they are older. I’ll just keep sniffling my way through moments of joy and be glad that my kids do not yet understand how fleeting and fragile beauty is.


I was listening to a podcast, probably Xplain the X-Men, and someone commented that while many superhero comics are about how one wins, X-Men comics are about how one loses — who will you be, what will you do, when you can’t win and all you have left is this moment of choice.


Norbert Capek would understand.



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