Ikebana is the Japanese word meaning “arranged flower”. Kado is another expression meaning “the way of the flower”. One finds the word “do” meaning “the way of” many times in Japanese culture: Ju do (the gentle way), Cha do (the way of Tea), Zen do (the way of meditation), Ken do (the way of the sword), Aikido (the way of harmonious spirit), etc. The Ikebana practice of flower arranging is largely an artistic and cultural expression of Zen Buddhism. Classically three elements are included in an Ikebana, representing Buddha (enlightenment), Dharma (Truth) and Sangha (community). This works well as a cultural or religious expression and the best Ikebana express a harmonious combining of the elements into a unity.
Ikebana can express Biblical Christianity even better because in Christianity the diversity of three and the unity of three are both absolutely fundamental. In Christian Ikebana the elements express Father, Son and Holy Spirit. An Ikebana is both static and dynamic and invites thought. It celebrates God’s Creation and His Mandate for people to be continually creative and responsible with it. Each Ikebana is unique, fragile and short-lived, so they must be renewed often. They stimulate a wakeful awareness of God’s infinite beauty and truth. Ikebana is a visual art form which does not speak with words but with relationships of color, texture, material (always organic, but in an inorganic frame of dish or vase), energy, thrust, full and empty space. They can be analyzed but must always be experienced directly. Ikebana are temporary (perishable) so the evidence of artistic activity is never far removed from the activity itself in time.
Martin Luther reportedly wrote Christian words to the drinking songs of the neighborhood pubs saying “Why should the devil have all the good tunes?” Why should the devil have all the good visual artistic and cultural forms? Ikebana can be a humble and powerful expression of Christian life and attitude.
The elements of Ikebana can move up, down or sideways, curl around or spiral, or any combination. One sees photos of elaborate and exotic, brightly colored creations, but ideally an Ikebana is made from the local flowers and vegetation of your own area gathered on a walk. Just use any kind of vase or dish with a frog or hedgehog to make the flowers stand up and be stable and incarnate your own ideas of wonder, praise and thanks.
God is Personal and made the physical creation to reflect something of Himself. Humans are made in the image of the personal God and live in the reality He created. When people give names to parts of the creation and add meaning in relationships, they honor God and humanize themselves. People can choose to emphasize and increase the personal nature of reality or to mechanize it, and themselves. As Christians, we should treasure the ordinary things in the creation around them, including man-made things, and work creatively with them to personalize and humanize reality as God intends for us to do.