Monday, June 02, 2014

Convallaria Majalis (Peter A. Black)

On the May 2-4 holiday Monday (Victoria Day—to be posh and traditional about it!) I
ventured to enjoy a lunch on the patio with my Beloved. Ventured I say, since the weather had finally warmed-up sufficiently to overtake my distaste for chilly air.

That was when I noticed a series of dainty little heads demurely drooping, as though reluctant and shy at making a public appearanceat last.
I’d forgotten about the Convallaria Majalis that grows in a strip of sandy soil between the south side of our deck and the concrete patio. The plant’s ivory bells tolled a silent tune that winter was truly over, not just on the calendar, but also in reality.

Courtesy: WikiPedia
Now, I confess I couldn’t have bandied about that posh name, Convallaria Majalis, until minutes before I started typing this article. It is the botanical name of a common variety of the garden plant, lily of the valley. That information came courtesy of Wikipedia.

There I was reminded that Kate Middletonnow the Duchess of Cambridgehad a bridal bouquet of lily of the valley. The plant’s charming perfume has been considered an attractant for someahemimportant male biological function or other. It is also highly poisonous, although several medications have been developed using trace amounts of certain chemicals extracted from it.

The term ‘lily of the valley’ is found in some versions of the Bible, in the Old Testament book called Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon). However, it’s believed to not be the same plant we use the term for nowadays. In the context of that love poem the Beloved describes herself as flowers that grow naturally in the valleys. “I am the rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys” (Song 2:1).
Various Christian preachers, poets and hymn-writers have turned that around, applying these terms as prophetic epithets of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the true Lover of our souls. And I’m OK with that. I love these terms; they’re dear to me, and that’s because all that Jesus Christ is and means to me is precious and winsome. The fragrance of His person brings out the best of what we can be as God’s gracious Spirit works in our lives.

Perhaps you’ve enthusiastically sung your heart out, belting out the old gospel standard, The Lily of the Valley. Or, maybe you’ve set your toes tapping to a country gospel artist or group’s rendition of it.
Charles W. Fry (1837-1882) wrote the words, and it is sung to an American folk tune attributed to William S. Hayes. The song is found in numerous hymnals. Here are the first verse and chorus:

I have found a friend in Jesus, He’s ev’rything to me,
            He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul;
            The Lily of the Valley, in Him alone I see
            All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole.
            In sorrow He’s my comfort, in trouble He’s my stay
            He tells me ev’ry care on Him to roll.
           He’s the Lily of the Valley, the bright and Morning Star,
           He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.*

Interesting for me was that in the instant my eyes alighted on those springtime joys I caught their delightful perfume. Had I been a moment later in seeing them, I would have smelled their distinctive fragrance, anyway. Some people have testified to catching the fragrance of Jesus' presence.
Although our lily of the valley plants are still in bloom their petals will soon fade and fall. May their inspiration live on in songs of love to our Lord Jesus, The Lily of the Valley!


*Public Domain.

Peter A. Black is a freelance writer in Southwestern Ontario, and is author of “Parables from the Pond” – a children's / family book (mildly educational, inspirational in orientation, character reinforcing). Finalist – Word Alive Press. ISBN: 1897373-21-X. The book has found a place in various settings with a readership ranging from kids to senior adults.
His inspirational column, P-Pep! appears weekly in The Guide-Advocate (of Southwestern Ontario). His articles have appeared in 50 Plus Contact and testimony, and several newspapers in Ontario. Peter’s current book project comprises a collection of 52 column articles, interspersed at points with brief inspirational statements of encouragement.

A collection of his articles are planned for publication later this year.
Raise Your Gaze
Family and Faith Matters 



Tracy Krauss said...

love the way you tied these little flowers into your post

Peter Black said...

Thanks Tracy.
The day after I wrote bout this, we returned home to find a lovely posy comprised of lily of the valley and forget-me-nots waiting on the porch deck.
A neighbour had an abundance of both in her garden (way more than we have), and was cutting them back.
We placed them in a vase on a divider as you come into the house, and the fragrance blessed us for a week. ~~+~~

Susan Harris said...

A refreshing post. You may remember why I get excited at the mention of "lily" - it's the meaning of my name. I had fresh calla lilies in my bouquet but my husband has an artificial one in his boutonnière so it's a special keepsake.

Peter Black said...

Yes, I do remember, Susan.
And yes, that boutonnière will certainly be a special keepsake for you.
I thought I'd drop the "Lily" name on my niece Susan when May and I visited her last month. She laughed, since she knew already.
(She's going through chemotherapy treatments at present, so we hope to get through to visit again in a week or so.)
Thanks "Lily"! :)

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

Tiny lily of the valley betrays its powerful smell, not one I can have in my home, but one I can appreciate for its delicate flowers in the wild outdoors. Thanks for your post, Peter.

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