But why the daffodil? The Welsh have already claimed the leek as their national plant after, it is believed, a battle back in the annuls of time when their men roared into battle wearing leeks on their heads to distinguish them from their enemies. The daffodil then, a much more gentle symbol, seems perhaps to have become elevated through some lack of communication. The Welsh name for leek being Cenhinen, and the daffodil being Cenhinen Pedr, I love the idea of this flower becoming such a symbol through a communication error.
Moving into a new home with a new garden, it is always interesting to see what starts to grow in various places - that previous occupiers have planted and long since forgotten. This little chap (pictured) has sprouted up in one of the pots left behind by the previous owner. Not quite a daffodil, but a narcissus from the same family.
The narcissus, so called after the son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Leiriope. Their son, distinguished for his beauty was infatuated with himself so much so that he fell in love with his own reflection and promptly killed himself knowing that love would never be requited. On the very spot he died, this little flower grew and took on his name.
Narcissism, the infatuation with oneself, is argued to be on the rise in modern society. The internet is littered with selfies as people indulge in their own narcissistic behaviour. We all exhibit some of these tendencies, and those with the most extreme symptoms may even be labelled with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder - though some argue such cases are rare to find.
The story of Narcissus and the passage from 2 Timothy are a reminder that this is not entirely a new phenomenon. When the Apostle Paul writes to Timothy he highlights the worrying traits of the society they lived in, and has startling echoes perhaps for us today:
"People will love only themselves and money. They will be proud, stuck-up, rude, disobedient to their parents. They will also be ungrateful, godless, heartless and hateful. Their words will be cruel, and they will have no self-control or pity..instead of loving God, they will love only pleasure. Even though they make a show of being religious, their religion won't be real." 2 Timothy 3: 2-5
Paul highlights a whole long list of narcissistic tendencies - and what is worrying is he seems to be warning about those in the church who act this way, and even perhaps leaders in the church who are living like this.
If the little narcissus does anything, let it stop us from thinking about ourselves and highlight to us the beauty that surprises in creation. Let us not be so consumed by our own reflection that we fail to see the beauty in others around us. And may the daffodil be a reminder that it is in remaining humble that we might ourselves be raised up (even if it ends up being just a communication error!)