Finding Solace in Zen, Nature and Ikebana
Beautiful and eloquent the delightful The Language of Flowers in the time of Covid is a reflective work that revisits the two years that for many, changed their lives on a permanent basis and for others, made little difference or allowed their innermost obsessions to surface.
Joan Stamm was like everyone else busy planning her year to come; a long awaited journey to Japan to visit the beautiful and many temple gardens in the Kansai region. Many years in the planning she was looking forward to undertaking this pilgrimage, returning to a country where she had lived many years before; a place where she had discovered the wonderful flower gardens of Japan and their deeper meaning; hanakotoba – the language of flowers.
This was not to be as the SARS-CoV-2 (aka Covid) virus was beginning to make its presence felt in China, before moving on to eventually render the world almost helpless in the face of a new mutation that defied science. Depression, death and immense trauma was to follow in its wake.
As an Ikebana teacher and follower as well as a Zen Buddhist, Stamm eventually decided that as she could not go to the flowers, perhaps the way ahead was to simply bunker down, draw on the Zen teachings and make the most of it beginning in the Time of the Plum – February.
February signifies a time of hope and endurance which was somewhat ironic, as it was to be discovered. From this beginning she reflects back over the periods of time when Covid waltzed freely amongst us.
She revisits the political situation prevalent in the United States at that time, the warnings issued by State Governors, the ever growing tally of deaths, not just in America but world-wide, the lack of understanding or empathy by the then President to this world calamity and so many of the emotions we experienced like winds throughout our lives, have now been let to pass into our yesterdays.
Each of the twelve chapters presented is courtesy of the relevant flower of the month, often with a beautiful Ikebana illustration which helped to lighten the moment amongst so much uncertainty. Stamm allows us to see her garden through her eyes, as a place of hope, when a treasured plant flowered abundantly or calamity, when the relevant flowers and plants failed to realise their full potential, or withered and died.
Humour is injected once the ‘essential trip’ was made available. Stamm sets out to go ‘off-island’ to visit the nursery to replenish her garden, with essential, must have plants, with unexpected and humorous results.
Throughout The Language of Flowers in the time of Covid the correlation is drawn that our lives are like gardens in every stage; from a mere seed to a spent, dead or dying plant. Stamm has, in the Epilogue said it is a harsh landscape which we move through on our life journey, therefor it is up to us, through our awareness, to make of it what we will.
Perhaps, the most salient point presented, is that we walk hand in hand with joy and grief into a very challenging and changing world, but we should never lose sight of hope, which is very much like the Daffodil, buried in the ground for long months of the year. When it is the right time, green shoots appear which later flood the landscape with vibrant shades of yellow and white to celebrate the arrival of Spring.
|Author||Joan D Stamm|
|Publisher||John Hunt Publications. Imprint Mantra Books.|