Monday, February 13, 2012

Setting a Proper Intention

This thing called Cancer is the modern day plague and ravishes our world taking our dearest innocent loved ones in it's path. None of us are spared of this democratically cruel attack upon our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, children and friends.
Yesterday I delivered two altar arrangements for the memorial service of a client's 27 year old daughter-in-law who had passed away after battling cancer. When I arrived I waited as her young husband was in the chapel having his time alone with her. Her wedding photo was on an easel at the entry way. She was gorgeous, radiant and had the most genuinely happy look on her face on that wedding day. Seeing her image brought tears to my eyes. When the young groom came out I went to him and offered my deepest sympathies from the bottom of my heart. He looked into my eyes and felt my sincerity and smiled, thanking me. He was so sweet and his love for her was palpable.
When I placed the arrangements amongst the other "funeral flowers" they somehow elevated the atmosphere and I believe helped her presence be felt.
In the Buddhist tradition the deceased enters a bardo (intermediate state) that can last up to 49 days before the stream of consciousness or soul "comes again" or reincarnates into a new life. From the moment I received the call on Friday for these flowers I felt a great responsibility to transcended the typical cookie cutter funerary pieces. The client explained to me who her daughter was, the colors she liked and how the arrangements should stand apart from all the others. This order consumed my entire weekend and I set my intent to offer this young lady who had rested from her battle the best I could deliver. I imagined her finding her way to a very happy new life and also placed myself in the shoes of her family members hoping to bring them some ease by presenting her surrounded by beauty and not stiff commercially produced funeral stands with the usual selection of flowers.
My client arrived as I placed the two arrangements and she was very pleased. She was immensely gracious and repeatedly thanked me, actually praising my work to the other family members standing there and explaining how quickly I managed to deliver such special pieces.
I do believe that through setting the intention I created an unspoken connection with this family.
Sometimes, when I'm battered by the extreme hard work this work entails or when my own budgeting falls short and my profits on these labors of love are minimal,
I feel that this is a thankless job. It's rare that I am reminded how important the work actually is. This was one of those times. I had a realization that the amount of love that I put into my work is love which is not lost on its recipients. As ephemeral as it is, the beauty which flowers and decor offer elevate the most important moments of our lives including birth, death, union and celebration. As a florist and decorator I take my work very seriously and know the inherent value of these earthly accessories- they have the ability to bring meaning to a moment and help us to elevate our thoughts and emotions. As back breaking and challenging as it is, it is meaningful and appreciated.