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Being with Flowers

A sculptor of floral art reflects on his spiritual practice.

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Alfie and Rufus (detail) by Este MacLeod

When I first began my career in floral design, I was an apprentice at My Son the Florist, in Los Angeles in the 1990s. My job was to prepare the flowers for the designers and clean up after them when they were finished. I would often hear them say, “Let’s use roses in that arrangement,” or “Let’s use orchids in that centerpiece,” and so on. The word use never sat well with me, and I decided early on that when I opened my own establishment, I would say, “Let’s work with roses in that arrangement” and “Let’s work with orchids in that centerpiece.” With our words we establish relationships. So let’s work with flowers, not use them.The first time I taught my workshop, “Being with Flowers: Floral Art as Spiritual Practice,” I had a student who had been a florist for many years. She told me that she felt like she had an entirely new job because she had made that simple change in her vocabulary. If you don’t like the verb work, how about play? Find a word that is comfortable for you—anything but use. It is the intention behind the things we do that really makes the difference, so let’s start with the intention …

Adapted from Being with Flowers: Floral Art as Spiritual Practice by Anthony Ward, published by Quarry Books.

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