Sister Paule Pierre Barbeau – People Are Like Flowers

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Sister Paule Pierre Barbeau – People Are Like Flowers

Vase of Varied Flowers 1
I was staring at a vase of flowers in our Chapel last fall.  It was late in the season, and likely the last of the mixed wildflowers picked around our property that we would be seeing for several months.  I wondered yet again at the variety.  Some were rather intricate in design.  Others looked almost disappointingly simple in comparison.  Some were small.  Others were huge.  Some flowers sported one color.  Others offered two colors for our viewing.  One looked like it might have gone through a slight tie-dye procedure.  Some were loud, almost pretentious.  Others seemed to be self-effacing.  Yet every single flower was beautiful because each flower had its own particular assets and “personality.”  Yet it was the collection of them placed together that made for a magnificent bouquet, so that in all things, God may be glorified (Rule of Saint Benedict 57:9).

Vase of Varied Flowers 2
I continued to reflect on this marvelous  arrangement, and something stirred inside me.  I became excited.  I realized that I was looking at something far grander than a collection of flowers, or even a bouquet.  I was looking at people, at community, at family, and even at myself!  Let me explain.  Every person is like a flower.  Some are more difficult to understand or reach, while others are simpler or easier to get along with.  Some are big. Some are small.  Some like to make a big splash.  Some prefer to go unnoticed.  Some like to be outrageous.  Others prefer the status quo.  Some are “book smart.”  Others are “street smart.”  Yet every single person is beautiful, with his or her own special gifts and talents, with his or her own personality.  And every single person is beautiful and endowed with a special dignity because each one is created in God’s own image and likeness (Gen 1:26).

Vase of Varied Flowers 3

Now what did I mean by saying that even I am like a flower arrangement?  Well, I think that within each of us resides a plethora of characteristics which are at times contrary and at other times complementary.  I can at times be loud, the life of the party (okay, not often), yet at other times (most often) I prefer to sit on the sidelines and observe others.  Most times (I hope) I can be rather compassionate, yet sometimes I just can’t seem to see past my own nose (and it’s not that long, either!).  I can be quite liberal, yet where certain topics are concerned I am quite conservative.  I think that there is within each of us these tensions or polarities that make us the unique, beautiful individuals we are.  Without these we would be very plain and boring people indeed! 

So our own characteristics make of each of us a beautiful bouquet, and each of us in turn becomes a flower in the bouquet of our family and various communities (whether they be religious, work, recreational, or some other type of community), so that in all [people], God may be glorified.




Sister Paule Pierre Barbeau

Sister Paule Pierre Barbeau is a novice at Saint Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. Originally from Quebec, Canada, she lived in the Southeastern United States for 16 years before coming to Duluth. She did research in the field of exercise physiology for over years, and more recently completed a graduate degree in theology, while volunteering in parishes, giving workshops and retreats.



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