Call and Response: Journeys in UU Lifespan Faith Development

Sharing a Deep Gladness and a Gift

By Gail Forsyth-Vail

flowers for gfv florist blog post

flowers for gfv florist blog post

This winter, I met with a florist to talk about flowers for my daughter’s wedding. I entered the shop on a cold, windy morning with no idea that when I walked out I would be so uplifted and inspired.

After our conversation about wedding flowers, the florist, Diane, told me about a project that is close to her heart. It’s called “Vermont Recycles Flowers.” Every week, in her shop, floral designers with the help of volunteers busily work on donated arrangements from weddings, funerals, and other events. They refresh, rearrange, and repurpose the flowers to brighten rooms at hospitals, rehab centers, schools, nursing homes, and more. They create recycled arrangements to beautify non-profit events and fundraisers. Diane's face brimmed with pleasure as she told me about the project.

What went through my mind were the words of the contemporary Presbyterian theologian, Frederick Buechner: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.” In a shop in Vermont, the deep gladness of creating beauty from recycled flowers meets the deep hunger of those who need a beautiful reminder that others care.

As a Unitarian Universalist religious educator, I am guided by a vision of helping people to discover their callings in life. What gifts, skills, and passions do each of us have that can help us connect with and respond to the needs of the world? How can we support one another in our faith communities as we discern the ways in which our deep gladness can be offered in service?

At its best, faith development engages each person, no matter their age and life circumstances, to discover what gifts they bring to share with the world. Such a discovery can be life-changing. Perhaps what they bring is leadership skills, or a gift for empathy, or an ability to connect people one with another. Perhaps they are artists, musicians, orators, carpenters, or teachers. And maybe, just maybe, one person's gift for flower design and capacity for kindness can help them discover a way make the world a better place.

Next Steps!

Explore the website of Random Acts of Flowers for more about flower recycling. Does an organization recycle flowers in your community? How can you help?

Make time with your family, your circle of friends, or a small group or committee in your congregation to explore the Buechner quote. To guide your conversation, adapt a UU small group ministry session, Saving and Savoring, by Rev. Dr. Jan Carlsson-Bull.

Or, spend time in solitude, in prayer or with a journal, contemplating these questions drawn from Saving and Savoring:

  • Today, or maybe even tomorrow, how do you plan to savor the world, to experience your “deep gladness?”
  • Today, or maybe even tomorrow, how do you plan to help save the world, to play a part in meeting the “world’s deep need?”

About the Author

Gail Forsyth-Vail

Gail Forsyth-Vail, a credentialed religious educator, master level, is the author or developmental editor of several UU history curricula and resources. Before retiring, she served as interim director of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Lifespan Faith Engagement Office.


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