An International Flower Communion - Celebrating the 90th Anniversary
Each year, the Prague Unitarian Congregation holds a traditional Flower Communion, a ceremony which was established by the founder of the religious society, Norbert Fabián Čapek. This year it was held on June 10th, at the occasion of the 90th anniversary of Czech Unitarianism. Thanks to this, several foreign hosts came – to be more exact, four official hosts. Specifically it was Rev. Eric Cherry (Director of International Resources at the Unitarian Universalist Association), Rev. Bill Darlison (Vice President of British Unitarians), Rev. Steve Dick (Executive Secretary at the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists) and Freya Bednarski-Stelling (Ambassador of German Unitarians). The ceremony was lead by Rev. Petr Samojsky, minister of the Prague Unitarian Congregation, and Rev. Mark Shiels, minister of the English-speaking branch of the Prague Unitarian Congregation.
Because of the anniversary, which underlined the ceremony, special attention was given to the music. Throughout the ceremony we could hear the composition of the Czech organist and composer Karel Loula, created especially for this occasion, and performed by the combined strength of the Uni-Sono choir and the Church Choir of the Holy Spirit accompanied by the Orchestra di Spirito, including the recently acquired pipe organ.
And how did the Flower Communion proceed? Mostly in the way the ceremony usually proceeds, which means that the chalice was lit, flowers were brought, there was a meditation and responsive reading, sermons, blessing of the flowers, extinguishing of the chalice and the conclusion connected with handing out the flowers. The service was framed by two songs sung together by all participants (Duchu živý/Spirit of Life and Čapek's Máti světa/Mother Spirit, Father Spirit). As opposed to other years, there were also the greetings of the foreign guests, virtual flowers were welcomed which were usually sent by e-mail from Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist societies, the representatives of which could not otherwise participate. Virtual flowers were presented as weaved into the web, symbolizing the interconnectedness of all people and of all existence.
Because of the relatively large choir and orchestra, the chairs were placed quite unusually in the room in the shape of complete circle. All of the chairs were filled and more had to be brought. The responsive reading was a bit different – the individual sentences were both in Czech and English, and the participants read it in their native language.
The sermon titled The Secret of the Garden, was given in two languages – it was read alternately by Petr Samojský in Czech and by Mark Shiels in English. It was dedicated to our responsibility to the state of the world, which was among other things compared to a garden. From what the garden looks like one might understand the state of mind of the gardener, who takes care of it. There are good gardeners, worse gardeners and gardeners who are really bad. And if we make the gardener a billy-goat, our crops will be lost altogether – therefore we should pay attention to who we give the power over our garden.
It was a successful Flower Communion – we could say this when we were leaving: some people earlier, some later, but everyone was happy. There was only wish on people's minds: if only some of this atmosphere we could send out into the world!
Written by Miloš Hlávka; English translation by Lena Jurgens