Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: A Place of Wholeness: A Program for Youth Exploring Their Own Unitarian Universalist Faith Journeys

Activity 2: Story - The Flower Festival

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • A copy of the story "The Flower Festival"
  • Handout 2, Flower Festival Readings for all participants
  • Copies of Singing the Living Tradition for all participants
  • Vases of flowers from Welcoming and Entering
  • Optional: A piano or recorded version of the song, "There Is More Love Somewhere," Hymn 95 in Singing the Living Tradition

Preparation for Activity

  • Optional: Arrange for musical accompaniment.

Description of Activity

This activity introduces the Unitarian Universalist Flower Festival as an expression of hope.

Distribute Handout 2, Flower Festival Readings. Ask how many people have ever participated in a Flower Festival at a Unitarian Universalist congregation. Invite those who have participated in the ceremony to throw out a word or phrase about the experience.

Explain that they will have the opportunity to participate in a Flower Festival, which began when they entered the meeting space, took a flower, and placed it in a vase, offering something beautiful to the group gathered.

To set a context, read or ask a volunteer to read aloud the story, "The Flower Festival."

Tell participants that they will recreate this meaning-filled ritual with a service including the original prayers of Dr. Capek. Invite participants to rise in body or spirit and hold hands in a circle (or stay seated in a circle and join hands). Explain that when Capek conducted his Flower Festival in Prague, he would say a prayer or blessing over the flowers. Read or ask a volunteer to read the flower festival prayer from the handout.

Explain that it is time to share in the Flower Festival. Ask that they approach the vase one or two at a time, quietly and reverently, with a sense of how important it is for each of us to address our world and one another with gentleness, justice and love. Ask them to select a flower-different from the one they placed in the vase-that particularly appeals to them, and when taking it, to notice its particular shape and beauty and recognize that it represents a gift of life from someone else in the room. The beauty of the flowers is also a symbol of hope. Share this Unitarian Universalist ritual of oneness, love, and hope in silence.

Once everyone has chosen a flower and returned to their place, invite participants to speak into the silence the name of someone who gives them hope. They could name someone famous for their good works or someone from their congregation or a personal hero. Hold space during this sharing for quieter members of the group to speak by allowing for silence, or by saying "if there is a voice among us that has not yet spoken, but would like to, please do" before closing the sharing.

Point out that one way we are together in worship is by singing together. Introduce the African American hymn "There Is More Love Somewhere," by saying it is a message of hope, expressed in this song by African Americans, but felt and expressed in many ways by many different marginalized communities. Invite participants to rise in body or spirit and sing "There Is More Love Somewhere," Hymn 95 in Singing the Living Tradition.

Close the Flower Festival with additional words by Capek in Handout 2, which have been adapted into a responsive reading. Leaders read the regular text, and participants read the italicized text. Alternatively, invite half of the group to read one part and the other half to read the response.

Observe a few moments of silence to signal the end of the ceremony. Thank the participants for participating in a Flower Festival. Now take some time to reflect on the experience. Present the following questions for discussion:

  • How did this ceremony make you feel?
  • How does this ceremony express hope?
  • Why do some people find hope in beauty?

After five minutes, close by emphasizing that the Flower Festival was Norbert Capek's attempt to bring hope and beauty to his congregants. Today, we too can bring hope and beauty to our own lives and to a world where too many people experience the hopelessness of oppression and persecution.

Including All Participants

An invitation to "rise in body or spirit" accommodates participants of all physical abilities. Assist any youth that might need help with words in readings.