The iris is the national flower of France, with a history stretching back over a thousand years. In the Middle Ages it was tied to French kings, and stylized into the fleur-de-lis.The name comes from the many colors of the flowers, for the ancient Greek goddess Iris. Her flowing dress was a rainbow she used as a bridge between heaven and earth. She led the souls of dead women to the Elysian Fields. Men planted purple irises on the graves of the women they loved so the goddess would find them and lead them on their journeys. Even earlier, the iris was a symbol in ancient India and Egypt for the renewal of life. The flower decorated the funeral temples of the Pharaohs to conserve their power for the afterlife.
As the state flower of my Tennessee home, I share this photo of a purple iris taken earlier this year in support of the people of Paris and France. I hope this flower will help guide the souls of those lost to Elysium. And I trust the restoring power of nature will help us all heal in the seasons ahead.