Growing lilies can be a frustrating experience. They grow long, green, spear-like leaves out of large onion-shaped bulbs.

I water the long row of bulbs diligently and wait impatiently to be rewarded by a flower.

For eight months, there’s nothing. Soon, the summer is upon us, with waves of blinding heat. To my horor all the leaves grow yellow and lie crumpled in the mud.

I stopped watering them is sheer disgust.

Suddenly one morning, I found a row of spear like green buds spring out of the ground on long stems. “Some more leaves”, I thought. A week later they were transformed into the loveliest flowers I’ve ever seen: A deep vermilion, their bell-like interiors lightly dusted with pollen. The bright yellow stamens provided a vivid highlight.

They lasted a week – a riot of festival colour. Then they faded, as abruptly as they had bloomed.

It was a strange and unexpected gift. And I felt their transient glory made the whole years labour worthwhile.

They were so much like the great painters and poets, who, by the world’s measure contributed nothing in their lifetime. Yet in their brief flowering they captured on canvas, on the pages of a book, all the glory of the world.

Perhaps we should not be in such a hurry to judge everyone by our own limited standards.