The Language of the Flowers

When, at the tower of Babel, God scattered the languages of the world, “so that they may not understand one another’s speech,” (Genesis 11:7) He, in His great mercy, left us some universal languages.

I think of music that crosses cultures and generations.  Bach and Handel may not have spoken English, but they spoke a language I do understand and love.

I think of art.  Pictures painted on ceiling of chapels or canvasses, large and small, speak and touch and move me, though I know not a word in the native tongue of the painter.

And I think of flowers — a language God Himself uses to speak to us in their beauty and simplicity.

Flowers may have been the language my mother understood best.  She worked tirelessly in her gardens, weeding, tending, making them beautiful for all to enjoy.  Inside the house there was always something blooming — poinsettias, Christmas cactus, amaryllis, the crown of thorns, Easter lilies, mums.  She understood the language of the flowers and plants, and they understood her and responded.

So when I read this quote by Shel Silverstein, I thought of her.

Once I spoke the language of the flowers,
Once I understood each word the caterpillar said,
Once I smiled in secret at the gossip of the starlings,
And shared a conversation with the housefly in my bed.

Once I heard and answered all the questions of the crickets,
And joined the crying of each falling dying flake of snow,
Once I spoke the language of the flowers. . . .
How did it go?
How did it go?

Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends

Oh, Alzheimer’s — did you have to take that as well?

8 thoughts on “The Language of the Flowers

  1. I have not stopped by in a while, been too busy writing for OTHER blogs instead of my own! This was a beautiful post as usual. I have always thought of music and art as a universal language but never flowers. It was so happy and full of joy and the last sentence stung. I understand the anger at Alzheimer’s all too well. Hopefully I won’t be a stranger to your posts next week because they really enhance my day!!

  2. I have not mastered the art of editing my posts. That last line was an after-thought because as I read through I kept picturing all the dead flowers and plants around my parents’ house these days without her caring for them.

    Shel Silverstein’s poem left me with the sad picture of my mother trying so hard to recall something she once knew so well. Now she may be at the point where she doesn’t know she ever knew it.

    Gah! I shouldn’t think about it. “…whatever is lovely…think about such things” (Phil 4:8) I should have left the last line off.

    • No no no, leave it!! It is so perfect. My great grandmother used to make the BEST desserts and I feel the same way, when we would go to family functions I would remember her pound cake with such fondness and would marvel over how she didn’t use a recipe or a measuring cup, but each time it would be wonderful and then it would hit me suddenly like your last line… it’s not good enough that the Alzheimer’s makes her forget who I am, who her daughter is, her grandchildren, etc but she can’t even do what she loved so much (bake and see the smile on people’s faces once they bit into her delicious desserts). I love it. It really shows how it is. (Just my opinion)

  3. The poem is beautiful, but the last line really touched my heart. When Alzheimer’s sting is personal, when the encounter crushes the one you love, your own heart bleeds. Blessings to you, Sally… and blessings to your mother…

  4. I know. Alzheimer’s is a terrible theif in the night.

    There actually is a book called the Language of Flowers. I read it recently. You might enjoy it.

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