The Times of Lily-of-the-Valley

In memory of Dr. Norman E. Wengert

I am barely done grieving the end of my lilacs and I’m fully immersed in the coming of lily-of-the-valley. White bells on a seemingly fragile stem, surrounded by green leaves: the sight of innocence and perfection. Their scent is sweet, delicate, yet powerful. They may end up in the elegant bouquet of the royal bride or in the intricate updo of a glamorous lady. They are effortless. The plant spreads fast and takes over space that may or may not have been designated for it. It also grows in the wild. One can stumble upon it in the forest. Despite its seeming innocence and fragility, it has a wild nature. It is fearless in a quiet, understated way.

The lily-of-the-valley in my garden were planted by the man who opened a door for me to discover what I may have sensed, but never understood. The very first time I stepped into his office, he had a small bouquet of lily-of- the-valley on his desk. He had probably never witnessed such ecstatic reaction to flowers. I hadn’t seen lily-of-the-valley during the decade I lived in Israel and could not contain my excitement. “What is so special about them?” he asked. “They are perfection,” was my immediate response. “And you are looking for perfection in this life, aren’t you?” he half asked, half asserted.

The conversation continued for the following twelve years. I was learning about Wisdom, the Universe and myself in the process. Those were tumultuous years of emotional ups and downs; establishing myself in yet another country, through my academic studies and subsequent career, while settling a myriad of family issues. His advice and guidance were invaluable. His unorthodox ways of thinking, writing and simply being may have appeared shocking if I hadn’t been weirdly prepared for it. He encouraged me to write. Whenever I think about him, I have nothing but gratitude in my heart.

But like the flowers, it was not meant to last. Our ways parted. On a few occasions in life you meet very special people that take your hand and help you cross a river. Sometimes, a very large and deep river. But after that, you are meant to find your own way, and new guides. He’s now gone, but the lily-of-the valley in my garden will remain present for years to come.

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