I N T R O D U C T I O N
When I first attended the Sandy Spring Friends Meeting over ten years ago, I knew nothing of Quakers, nothing about the Meeting and its rich history that spans more than 250 years. Yet, something about the old brick Meetinghouse drew me. Inside I encountered a well of silence that I deeply needed, kind folk who sat in silence together, and—flowers.
One April Sunday there was a vase filled with blossoms from a black cherry tree placed on one of the small wooden tables along the east wall. As I watched the light from the tall windows touch the branch and move across it, presence arose. I knew then that I wanted to photograph this to see if I could record my experience and share it with others.
So began my involvement with the Meeting and its buildings, grounds, trees, and community. In time, a deep friendship arose with the lady who had placed those blossoms. That friendship gave birth to this book.
Elizabeth Johnsen has been a member of the Flower Committee at the Meeting, “doing the flowers,” for almost 20 years. The committee’s work has been celebrated in verse and has inspired other photographers as well. Their gifts have deeply touched members of the community in countless ways.
This work is a record of the offerings that Elizabeth Johnsen has been led to give. Elizabeth would be the first to say, “These are not my arrangements.” And I would say, “These are not my photographs.” The offerings are both prayer and practice. It is in that spirit that we wish to dedicate this work for the benefit of all beings.
All profits from the sale of this book will go to the Sandy Spring Friends Meeting, Sandy Spring, Maryland.
—Christy Stebbins, Silver Spring, Maryland