[Note from Editor: This story first appeared in CLARITY (15 May 2019). It’s published here with permission.]
You wait with anticipation for your date to arrive. On tenterhooks, you pace up and down in your flat. You rush to a nearby mirror. Is your hair in place? Is the outfit the right colour? Maybe, the outfit is not right. Perhaps, you should change.
The doorbell rings.
Oh no! There’s no time. He’s here.
You open the door and there’s this man standing on your doorstep. All suited and booted, he looks debonair. But what’s this he’s holding?
It’s not a rose. Or even your favourite, orchids. Surely, he’d have made more of an effort than this – a single sunflower with a pretty red ribbon.
All manner of thoughts run through your head.
This man doesn’t care for me.
We’ve known each other for so long and he brought me this?
A sunflower for God’s sake.
Surely a rose wouldn’t have cost that much.
Oh my God! This man is poor.
You look at the gentleman’s face. He’s grinning.
You move to shut the door, but he puts his hand up to stop you. He tells you a story and your heart skips a beat. Then he says something and you practically fall into his arms.
What did this gentleman say?
Well, this was the cliff-hanger moment that Brenda James presented us with at the start of our Speaker Series (‘Making Your Money Work for You’) on 11 May 2019. She told us, instead, her history. Born and brought up in Ipoh, Perak, Brenda completed reading Law before she began her career in the corporate world. Although she became financially secure, she felt miserable. By 2008, she made the decision to start Nook Flowers in Bangsar South. With the realities of running her own business were also painful and humiliating lessons. Throughout, the one quality she retained was her optimism.
One of the most wonderful stories that Brenda shared echoes our focus on being happy, spreading such happiness through the work we do and the people we’ve become. Straightening her shoulders, Brenda gives a bright smile and explains that when she’s done with an arrangement, she’ll holds it in her hands and whispers, “Go, make someone happy.” Saying these words, she believes, results in the transmission of happy thoughts and feelings to those flowers. In turn, the final recipient receives not only the flowers, but the sentiments too.
As expected, generating such happiness always has a spill-over effect on other aspects of one’s life. Even though Brenda was barely making ends meet, she remained determined to look at the brighter side of life and joined the Philharmonic Society of Selangor. Having derived much contentment from this activity, Brenda smiles even brighter when she reveals that it’s through the choir that she met her husband.
Perhaps, the most synchronous moment of this Speaker Series session came about during the Q & A session. The questions ranged from ‘Is it OK to use white flowers for Mother’s Day?’ and ‘Why do we like lilies when they are flowers used during funerals in the West?’ to a point about chrysanthemums having a bad reputation because they were regarded as ‘prayer flowers’.
It is when Brenda said something along the lines of, “How amazing is it that a flower can be used to glorify the Divine,” that many of us who’d gone on the recent retreat to Bandung, Indonesia felt a shiver run down our spine. This was precisely what HH SwamiGuru had alluded to on 5 May 2019, during the last discourse of the retreat. In His words:
“The journey of the flower is meant to enhance the understanding of learning to live as naturally as possible without having to compare your life with that of others. It is only then that you’ll understand the greatness of creation, the creator and creativity. With that understanding, you will realise that life is all about being yourself and not someone else. You have been endorsed by the Divine to be ‘you’. Don’t be someone else and don’t seek some else’s endorsement for who you are. This journey can only be successful if you first make an effort to find your true non-contaminated self. In so doing, you will also realise the power of gratitude and the blessings of life.”
Incidentally, the flower of choice during our retreat was a genus of sunflower. Now that we’re back to talking about this giant yellow palmful of sunshine, let’s return to the tale of the gentleman who brought his lady love a sunflower.
The story he tells her before she falls into his arms is that in Greek mythology, Apollo was the Sun God who rode his golden and ivory chariot from east to west every day. A water nymph called Clytie was in love with Apollo, but it was unrequited. For nine days, unblinking, she watched him move across the sky. Eventually, she was turned into a flower which came to be known as the Sunflower.
The gentleman then looked into his lady love’s eyes and said, “The sunflower is the only one that follows the movement of the sun. Even if there is the slightest glimmer of light in the sky, the sunflower will turn its head to find it. And that’s how I feel about you.”
Quite simply, Aneeta Sundararaj loves flowers. Read more stories like this on her website, ‘How to Tell a Great Story’. (http://www.howtotellagreatstory.com).