Some of you may be familiar with a flower called Lily of the Valley. It is a woodland plant which thrives in dappled shade. With its delicate, bell shaped flowers and sweet scent, Lily of the Valley is a welcome sight in the northern hemisphere, heralding the time when spring begins to slowly transform into summer. The scientific name for Lily of the Valley is Convallaria majalis. Majalis meaning ‘of or belonging to May’.
There are many stories that surround this beautiful plant. Some say it derived its common name of Our Lady’s Tears from the story that as the Virgin Mary shed tears at the crucifixion of Jesus her tears fell onto the ground and the Lily of the Valley sprang from the ground where her tears had fallen.
The plant is also said to signify the return of happiness. Legend has it that the plant fell in love with a nightingale and became utterly enchanted by the bird’s pretty song. When the nightingale left the forest the plant was sad. It was only when the nightingale returned the following May, filling the forest with its beautiful music, that the Lily of the Valley bloomed in delight at the nightingale’s return.
Whilst the return of happiness is always something to be celebrated, how much better it would be if happiness never went away in the first place. An impossible thing to achieve? Probably. One way to achieve if not happiness then at least a level of contentment, would be to take pleasure from the small things we see, hear, touch and feel as we go about our everyday lives. The pleasure in listening to a child laugh or watching a puppy play. Running our fingers over a lavender plant and then smelling the scent on our fingers. Watching the breeze play across a field of grass, pushing it one way before pulling it another as if orchestrating a dance for our delight. The feel of sinking into the crisp, clean cotton sheets of a freshly made bed at the end of a tiring day.
All too often we are weighed down by our cares and woes, wishing the week away to hang on to every weekend but to do so is to live only half a life. To live a whole one we need to be fully engaged. Mindfully aware and ready to acknowledge beauty whenever we see it.
If we can learn to take pleasure in the small and simple things we can find a reason to rejoice every day and not just when we hear a nightingale sing. Wouldn’t that be a nice way to live?