During the period of virtual worship services, we have been sustained by the presence of Ed, Hal, and Kyle. And there was another faithful servant in the building, speaking to us in the language of flowers. We know her as Cilla, and every Sunday we marvel at her artistry.

When she was old enough to climb the stairs of the historic church in Stratford Connecticut, she helped her mother arrange flowers on the altar. She recalls the local florist delivering an assortment of blooms to the church every Saturday. Here in Greensboro, Cilla doesn’t await a florist delivery for Sunday worship. On foot or on bike, she regularly scouts the local landscape. This is where she begins her weekly arrangement – with whatever is happening in the natural world. She looks for color first. Then she adds the greens for texture. By Friday, she knows what is needed. She gathers blossoms from her own abundant gardens as well.

The “mechanics” of arranging flowers involves the vase (she relies on two or three favorites), some floral wire, and a triangular design that creates movement and flow. The arrangement should fit on the altar and be a part of the ceremony. Cilla pays attention to the season and the liturgy. Once in a while she adds a little joke or mystery, to spark curiosity.

Every arrangement has a story. Every flower has a meaning.

Cilla Bonney-Smith with Rudbeckia (Meaning: Motivation and Encouragement) [Photo by Jason Crane]

With only .9 acres of land surrounding her home, she grows an abundance of flowers. And with a new glass greenhouse (shipped from Belgium with 49 pages of instructions deciphered by her husband, Nat Smith!), she will be able to capture the south-facing light and bask in the warmth all year ’round.