Lily of the Valley prompts childhood memories. When the delicate white bells of the flower would open in May my mother would bring some inside and their fragrance wafted through the house. In my child’s mind they were definitely flowers of the Fairies, easily imagined that winged luminous little beings of light would harvest the tender stalks of bells for some magical purpose. Now the scent evokes memories of my mother, she loved gardening, flowers, digging in the dirt, long walks in the woods. She taught me about my other mother-the Earth and all the beautiful amazing things that surrounded us. Often my mother would seemingly banish me “outside!” I would wander for hours in the woods, climbing trees, swaying in the breeze, singing little childish songs as I witnessed the world from my perch nestled in the land of fairies.
Lily of the Valley has many symbolic meanings attached to it, ‘the tears of Mary as she watched the crucifixion’, ‘Eve’s tears as she and Adam were driven from Eden’, ‘the blood shed by Saint Leonard of Noblac the patron saint of imprisoned peopled, during his battles with a dragon’ and also the ‘Second coming of Christ’ in some religious paintings. This all from a sweet fragrant white bell beauty of nature. So often our need to tell our human story is intimately intertwined with the gifts of nature.
For me, the little flower is also aptly referred to as a “Ladder to Heaven”. It becomes the bridge between my mother and me. She now resides in a place of Divine Love, Summerland if you will, where I imagine there are vast beautiful gardens.
Working in hospice over the weekend, I bore witness to other daughters losing their mothers; it evokes in me a deep sense of empathy and compassion. Sometimes words cannot convey what the heart knows, and so I smile sadly and hugged them, knowing their journey has changed, that childhood memories will now bring them bittersweet comfort, as they stand at the foot of the Ladder to Heaven.