Holy Innocents' Episcopal Church

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Musings on Flowers

“Consider the lilies of the field: how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin, yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one.” - Matthew 6:28.

Advent is the perfect time to reflect about all our blessings and what is coming. WHO is coming!

But what happens? It is also the time when we, women in particular, are as frantically busy as Martha preparing, washing, cooking, and cleaning for Jesus’ dinner visit. Thanksgiving vanished in a bite of pecan pie. Fall decor down; house plants deadheaded or ditched; Christmas ornaments, trees, wreaths, unpacked & hung. Presents considered, bought, wrapped, sent. Cards! Do we STILL do cards? Parties, lunches, dinners, clothes…

Since 1997, I have planned floral designs for services at Holy Innocents. In a weak moment, I also “did” wedding and event flowers. Now I only design for services and feasts at HI. (True confession: There was about a five-year break when others handled it all.)

As most adventures begin, my first friend in Atlanta, Ann Hobbs, dragged me into church flower design because she needed help. Together we attended the National Cathedral Flower Seminar. We watched 4 demonstrations a day, then designed our own for critique. We learned volumes about designing flowers in sacred spaces and we interviewed participants from denominations all over the US about how they organized their Flower Guilds, ordered flowers and encouraged helpers. In later years we encouraged Sally Combs, Emily Levitt and the late Carol Fetters to attend Flower Week.

Since then, I have studied with some international designers, travelled to England and Ireland for more; entered the World Association of Flower Arrangers’ international competition (Flower Olympics) and placed twice! Emily Levitt & I took the 2.5 yrs. National Garden Clubs’ course and qualified as Flower Show judges.

Meanwhile, I sit in the back of our magnificent space at Holy Innocents and dream about how we can best celebrate the season. Planning starts early: all the giant wreaths and greens are ordered in September. The Revs. Bill Murray & Buddy Crawford add their thoughts, changes, additions. (We are grateful that Bill installs his family Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving — giving the FG permission to spread our work through Advent. In the “old days” the requirement was that NO Christmas decor was installed until Christmas Eve! Can you imagine the frantic angst, no less challenges of finding helpers, when Advent 4 comes on Dec. 24th? Every 7 years or so.)

I am blessedly free to ponder the design of the seasons thanks to the dedication, organization, and devotion of my right hand, Administrator Molly-O Wagner. Molly-O has long-term experience in Altar Guild, Liturgy, and just about everything that goes on in the church. She excels at details and rallying the troops. Molly-O keeps me on track and is more than willing to lend an extra hand when I need help during the week and haven’t thought to ask.

Along with Bill’s intent to grow through Advent, the Flower Guild is gradually greening the church. As is church custom, only greens and cones — no flowers — are added during Advent. Red will appear on Christmas Eve. This year Beth Tarkington and Nan Henson have wrapped the nave columns in Advent seasonal blue, and the Flower Guild will add swags each week. (With the addition of the congregation of Our Lady of Guadalupe, they will also festoon the statue of the Virgin with flowers, but that is different.)

It takes everyone on the FG and tall friends on ladders to prep and install all the areas from the monument sign outdoors to the cross. The designs progress gradually in detail as we move to the cross. No huge bows on the entry doors!

If anyone has ordered flowers delivered from a commercial florist, you have an idea what a financial commitment it is to produce a feast like Christmas or Easter at the church. AT HI we spend about $3500 each year for floral design for the Advent/Christmas season! We use three wholesalers and a grower from Hawaii. Planning and ordering is the fun part. But we could not produce it without the faithful assistance of people willing to come in Thursday mornings to breakdown the previous Sunday flowers, wash buckets, and condition new flowers delivered by the wholesalers. The more the merrier! Please volunteer; we would love to have you. We teach each other special floral conditioning requirements. The best way to learn about mechanics and how to design is to break it down! We pray for each other and remember weekly that through all our humble efforts, God is smiling… sometimes having a belly laugh!

Meanwhile, we love hearing about what the flowers mean to you. Celebrate your happiness and thankfulness and remembrances by sponsoring flowers on a Sunday. Call Melody at 404-255-4023!

And if you have an hour or two on a Thursday morning, come to the Flower Guild Room and learn how to condition flowers. You already know how to wash buckets!

And remember the lilies…they are just there being beautiful…

Yours in the flowers,
Maidee