Opening words (by Tess Baumberger)
Reader 1: There will be a brightness to this day
Even if there be but cloud and rain outdoors.
Reader 2: The brightness of this day comes from within,
From this gladly gathered company.
Reader 1: There will color and fragrance to this day,
Even if there be but gray and chill outdoors.
Reader 2: The color and fragrance come from within,
From the flowering of our spirits in this place.
Reader 1: There will be praise and laughter to this day,
Even if there be but difficulty elsewhere in our world.
Reader 2: The praise and the laughter come from within,
For our hearts leap within us as we gather together to worship.
Reader 1: Today let there be brightness
Reader 2: Today let there be color and fragrance
Reader 1: Today let there be praise and laughter
Reader 2: Spirit of the flowers blooming, be with us.
Reader 1: Flowers of the spirit blooming, be with us.
Opening Chant Sing and Rejoice
Reading "I Tell You" (excerpt) by Susan Glassmeyer
Meditation The Days of Many Flowers (by Tess Baumberger)
We all have those days of no flowers, just weeds.
You know the kind I mean–
The days when the damn sermon, report, or presentation
will not manifest and we sit in despair at the keyboard,
dramatically clutching our heads—
if not wailing and gnashing our teeth.
The days when the baby cries or the cell phone goes off
just at the most carefully crafted part of our sermons,
and we know we can’t go back and repeat those dear words
because that would seem just a little self-involved.
The days of too many meetings
After nights of not enough sleep
The days of failed canvasses or fundraising drives,
Or devolving battles we stupidly stick ourselves into
So we then must clumsily attempt to extract ourselves.
The days when the people we serve are snarky
and we snark right back.
The days when they behave badly
and we dread pointing it out.
The days of fearfully taking bold stances
speaking our truth to those who have the power to fire us,
our hearts beating wildly, while we attempt to appear calm.
The days when we behave badly
and others rightfully act shocked.
The days of our own mistakes that we cannot admit to ourselves
And the days we can admit our own failings.
The days of criticism we take too much to heart,
Ignoring all previous and future praise.
The days when we simply cannot summon compassion
For those who push our buttons,
No matter how hard we try to do so.
The days when our favorite congregants or clients
(which we all hate to admit having) move away
And we want to pack our bags and move with them
Or at least wail and wave kerchiefs from the curb.
Worse yet are the days when those beloved people become ill,
Or when we watch them die and have to hold ourselves up or together
Enough to support their grieving family.
We all know those days of no flowers in our ministries
When the weeds rise up and seem to choke out the beauty.
But then there are the days of more flowers than the vases can hold.
You know those days–
The days when the sermon or report or presentation
flows swiftly from your fingertips
And when you deliver it people cry or perhaps
A thoughtful silence wraps you and them
In a holy moment of connection.
Better yet, the days when you think your efforts
Produced nothing special or only dross
but people thank you anyway and you know that
somehow Grace has happened through your clumsy tappings.
The days of fun and productive meetings
Where creativity is queen and much is accomplished
In loving and thoughtful ways,
Nights of long sleep and good dreams
Of better canvasses or fundraisers yet to come
with budget surpluses or at least lower-than-expected costs.
The days when people treat one another as gently and reverently
As the husband in the poem,
Even when someone is snarky, even if it is you.
The days when someone else speaks your truth
Before you can, so you do not have to do it and can merely nod.
The days when you can take criticism with a grain of salt
And praise and positive feedback with a thankful, open hand.
The days when exactly the right thought word or action
Occurs to you at exactly the right moment,
And you think it, or say it, or do it
And you witness something opening up inside you
Or in another person, or in the garden spaces between you
So that compassion flows in and floundering relationships flourish.
The days when wonderful new members or clients come to you
And you watch them and their lives unfolding, blooming
Into treasures you can keep, and hold forever in your heart.
The days when illness does not diminish those we love
And death does not defeat those who loved them,
When people take the lead of adversity and,
In the alchemical places of their hearts,
Transform them into the gold of wisdom, courage, kindness.
The days when colleagues come together and share
The heartbreaking difficulty AND the heartbreaking joy of this work,
When we watch as each other unfold and bloom into our ministries,
Bringing treasures to congregants and clients
as well as to our fellowship.
These are the days of too many flowers for any vase to hold.
May this be a day of too many flowers for you,
and in the coming weeks and months, may such days grow
In number and frequency for each of us,
In the hours of our working, and our resting,
Of our going out and our coming in.
May we rejoice in the abundance of our blessings.
So may it be.
Chant I Know This Rose Will Open
Have people come up who wish to join in blessing the flowers. Have them extend their hands over the flowers and call out gifts they have received at the retreat. Summarize with a prayer that all of these gifts be upon the flowers so that the people who will bear them away carry those gifts with them.
Invite those who are in transition to come forward to take flowers first, then others.
(Have the Flower Communion)
Closing Chant From You I Receive
Benediction—O Send Forth Us (by Tess Baumberger)
O, send forth us, spirit,
forth to do well our work,
work of our lives, our living.
May these our lives touch
those in need of love and healing.
May we bear witness to our faith,
even when to do so seems
too great a risk.
O, send forth us, spirit,
yet leave us tap roots here
to sustain us and to twine
with roots of these our lovely,
loving others, whose spirits
have welled a while together.