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In Memory of my Ikebana Teacher Theresa Feile

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Theresa’s Farewell. 27 May 20156

There is a belief, that when you are ready, the master or the teacher will appear.

I met Theresa in the year 2000, the year, when she decided to teach Ikebana. I was grieving for a sudden loss of my sister. Theresa was grieving for the loss of her husband. We met, and this was a start of  a long standing friendship.

Theresa’s house in Kallista became mine and other student’s sanctuary. We would come religiously for our lessons, not just to learn ikebana, but also to talk about children and grandchildren, the latest  news and about books, wrinkles, diets, exhibitions, men, politics, music, and other things women talk about.

But don’t get me wrong Ikebana was a priority. We would walk in and lose ourselves in Theresa’s Ikebana. She would make six or more arrangements, and explain what and why she had done it in a particular way, sometimes asking us cheekily  to correct her work. She would demonstrate some techniques, and then we would immerse ourselves in our work. There was  a silence, a silence of creation, when we would  forget everything, just flowers, our hearts and our hands. Sheer luxury in today’s world. No lotus postures, but profound meditation. Theresa used to say “Flowers keep me young.”

She knew everyone of us very well. She knew what stage we were at, and what we could or couldn’t do, and pushed us to go further.  Everyone was  made to feel  very special by Theresa. She was gentle but very firm with Ikebana. We couldn’t get away with OK Ikebana- it should be perfect. She would ask;”Do you need that- a branch or a tiny leaf, one of hundreds, or a flower bud, and when we took  it out she would reply: See ,not missed.”

I was wondering why professional, some still in workforce, busy women with families were spending their precious time on Ikebana.

I think we ‘ve  continued doing it for 16 years because of Theresa. Her passion became our passion, her love of beauty became ours, her encouragement, and dedication, her soul searching, her creativity became ours. We built a sacred bond between the student and the master. Theresa’s Ikebana was very Japanese- perfection, refinement and beauty, no short cuts, always prepared.

Each of us brought an arrangement for Theresa today. When we were thinking what was her favourite flower, we decided that she liked them all. We chose blue irises to connect our arrangements. Theresa made irises to look as if they’re growing from the vase in a full splendour. Theresa was a master of Irises.

Well. Theresa won’t correct us today. She will not greet us:”Oh, you look so nice today, or your hair is beautiful, or honestly you look 10 years younger  today.” We will not indulge in her kitchen in a smorgasbord of sweets to share and “please, take home to your husband.” She knew them all. As we knew her family.

Theresa encouraged me to follow in her steps, and to teach Ikebana. She believed I should carry on this amazing art and open the sacred door of creativity to others as she did. I tell my students :” You know your Ikebana is good if it gives joy to your heart,” My teacher told me that.

Farewell Theresa . You’re in my heart.