Latest ‘Theology of Home’ Book: ‘Flowers Enhance Our Humanity’
BOOK PICK: ‘Arranging the Seasons’ is the fourth installment of the popular series.
Theology of Home IV
Arranging the Seasons
By Emily Malloy
Foreword by Carrie Gress and Noelle Mering
TAN Books, 2023
296 pages, $34.95
To order: TheologyofHome.com
Theology of Home IV: Arranging the Seasons is full of lovely words and lovely photos — in praise of how God arranges the seasons to offer us the beauty of creation.
“A home can be a sacred place filled with ordinary glimpses of hidden life. As we permit flowers to be a part of daily live, we can contemplatively reside within our homes and pause — even if just for a moment — at the sight of beauty,” writes Emily Malloy, whose photography is a hallmark of this beautiful book.
The reader — at least this one — feels like she is in Malloy’s home, watching her create her floral arrangements, looking to what God has provided in nature each season. Arranging the Seasons adds nicely to the Theology of Home series, of which I am a fan; this is my favorite installment to date.
It is the crux of this book that matters: how flowers remind us of our eternal destiny — and how God in his goodness gave us nature’s plethora and sacramental bounty.
“Flowers are foremost an expression of love by God the Father, who made the world a garden for His children.”
Of course there is information about flowers and gardening; there are how-tos, including “The Basics of an Arrangement” and “some tips to prolong the life of your floral arrangement,” along the way.
But season after season, month by month, Malloy offers liturgical living at its best — complete with pictures of sweet buds tucked into Marian vases or adorning sacred art. And the chapter on May, of course, gives a nod to Our Lady. (Interestingly, Malloy draws upon “The History of Roses,” as noted in the bibliography, sourced from my alma mater.)
Throughout, charming photos show the author and her children among the bountiful blooms and branches. Saint quotes and other floral and seasonal quotes offer inspiration, including that perennial favorite from heroine Anne of Green Gables about Octobers.
But it is not all beautiful. Malloy delves into the bare months, reminding readers that such cycles can be equated with enduring trials — and just as growth is still there, so is God and “a future of hope.”
“When all seems lost, we must remember that nothing is impossible for God, who even spares a rose as a visible reminder of His faithfulness during trials,” she observes while relating a personal story.
And just as weeding is needed in the garden, so must we discern “the good that God wants to cultivate in us.”
Cultivate is a good word for this book and for our spiritual journey. Fostering growth is needed for tending souls as well as tending flowers, after all.
But most of all, this book reinforces why flowers matter, that what God created matters — from the colorful blooms in a vase in your kitchen to the dignity of the human person, in this vale of tears and beyond the veil.
“Beauty is never a waste. As we arrange flowers, we arrange the sacred. We work with the marvels of God’s creation; placing flowers in a vase is the simplest way to share these gifts’ wonder. The world — and the home — are made more beautiful where their presence is welcomed.”
She writes elsewhere: “As we arrange each flower into an arrangement, we gather prayers and sacred gifts to elevate the home. Floral arrangements bridge our homes to the garden where we walk with the Lord.”
This includes visiting graves for All Souls Day; lighting candles and laying flowers where our faithful departed rest is part of the ebb and flow of life as we entrust souls to God and journey heavenward here below.
And flowers are with us during these moments, happy and sad alike.
“We witness how flowers enhance our humanity,” Malloy notes. “They console us in grief, triumph with us in joy, and brighten everyday moments in life … beauty and God endure.”
For the fond of flowers, this book is a must-read — for it prompts the reader to admire that simple bouquet, savor a garden’s array and better appreciate the seasonal glories outside.
Overall, Malloy reflects, “Flowers come to greet us in everyday things and enhance so much of ordinary life.”
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