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“Aaaaaaaw that’s so lovely”, hollered my colleague and I in tandem as we wandered in wonder in to the Décor section of the exhibition hall at our work place. It was the annual Christmas sale and a sight of uniquely awesome flowers was the least we expected at the exhibition, going by history.

Ike what? I exclaimed. I thought I had missed the statement from the mellow voiced clean shaven African beauty. “My name is Fiesta and welcome to my stand ladies. What you see is called Ikebana” The eagerness in us did not allow for length introductions about personal pets, affiliations and the like. After a brief introduction and chit chat, we got down to business.

Ikebana is Japanese for ‘living flowers’ and the concept is still new in my country Kenya. Ikebana flower arrangement replaces the conventional flower set up to introduce a natural touch in the flowers. Long stems are used to compliment the shorter ones and the flowers too to bring a natural cascading effect. Outdoor types of flower vases are also mainly used to bring the natural look. Fiesta led us through the history of Ikebana and that it remains one of the most distinct arts in Japanese culture. We were amazed and amused. As she explained, it became clear why we thought she had moved her flower garden to the exhibition centre-the flowers looked so alive, you would mistake them for live plants.

Women have a way of connecting with each other in a split second. The next thing we heard from Fiesta was that she would let us have the flowers and some of her unique vases too for the weekend. The exhibition had been on a Friday. Excitement reigned high. We could not wait for the exhibition to be over, so that we could adorn our offices with the collection. I think Christopher Columbus did not feel as ecstatic when he discovered the Americans as we did, upon discovering Ikebana.

‘Knock knock”, and there was Fiesta announcing Ikebana’s 3 days visit to our offices. The pebbles looked divine. I was reminded of growing up in the slopes of Mt. Kenya and walking to school very early in the morning to find the unadulterated crispy waters, and black pebbles watching over their permanent running mate. Amazement at God’s creation reigned high. We chorused “Ikebana” and swung the vases left and right for strategic positions in the office.

By Monday evening when Fiesta returned to collect her vases, three days had passed but three things loomed and roamed in my mind:

First, i thought of the wondrous works of God. Nature is a constant reminder of God’s wondrous works and His care for mankind. It reminded me of my inherent duty to take care of the environment, so that I could continue enjoying the wondrous works; getting to appreciate things in nature that people often overlook because of their busy lives. Ikebana can inspire one to identify with beauty in all art forms. In staring at flowers, from the stem to the petals, one feels closeness to nature which provides relaxation for the mind, body, and soul.

Secondly, i was reminded of the powor of connections and friendships; what my good friend Sophie would call sisterhood without borders-ssf. A single loving act by a total stranger which left me connected to a woman who, despite being from a neighbouring nation to mine, and who had lived in a different continent all her life, was still as warm. I thanked God for an opportunity to befriend a stranger. I smiled for sisterhood and the amazing power of women to connect to each other.

Thirdly, I was reminded that a single rare act of kindness to a stranger would make much of a difference. Some interactions are life changing. Do you believe in the life changing power of a smile? What have you done or committed to do in order to bring a smile to another’s face, even though they are strangers? What talent within you will you share with others so as to improve their lives?

In the meantime, both my house and offices are all filled up with ‘living flowers’.

Let’s live! Ikebana!


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