How SnowFlower Got Its Name

A sunflower field at Plum Village
A sunflower field at Plum Village

by Karuna Namenwirth

From the windows of the speeding train on the way to Plum Village in the Dordogne region of southwestern France, there were miles and miles of blooming sunflower fields, a magnificent sight to behold. It was easy to understand why so many Thich Nhat Hanh sanghas at the time had the name “Sunflower.”

Back in Wisconsin: at a certain point, our young sangha needed a name too.  So it came about that one winter’s day, as I was busy making snow angels, the name SnowFlower suddenly appeared before my mind’s eye. That was it – in one fell swoop.   The name took into account the beauty of the flower and our Wisconsin location. Not to mention that special Zen touch: the apparent contradiction until one looks more deeply

There are those who wonder why we capitalize the “F” in “SnowFlower.”  That spelling appeared to my mind just the way we write it now — capital S, capital F, written as one word.   And our newsletter, “The SnowFlower Sun,” reflects the memory of the Plum Village sunflowers that inspired our sangha’s name.

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