Sunflowers

My sunflowers are blooming again. I was afraid I would miss them this year with our upcoming move to Texas. For weeks, I gazed at them, urging them to hurry up and begging them to give me one last glimpse of their bright yellow petals, faces fully locked towards the sun. I needed to see them one last time. I needed to see this powerful sign of hope more than ever this year.

sunflowerThese sunflowers have been my teachers for the past four years. Their first lessons happened by mere chance, with seeds dropping from our birdfeeders and surprising us with their strong stalks and wide leaves that relentlessly followed the sun. Their very existence appeared to be to soak up as much of the sunlight as they could so they could produce bright, vibrant flowers.

They grew, and I learned. If only my life could be like theirs: intently focused on God’s Son, stretching and growing in any direction needed so that I could absorb the maximum amount of Christ’s light. If only my search for the light could produce such fruit as theirs.

These wise teachers taught me that my life could absorb the light of Christ and that Christ’s light in my own life could offer something to others.

Watching them begin to wither, though, showed me their most valuable lessons. As the petals began to brown, the flower heads would droop and turn downward, facing the earth. Their apparent death dropped thousands of seeds into the dirt, holding potential for new life next year.

This was the new life I needed to see this year. I needed to see the full Paschal Mystery played out one last time in my sunflowers. I needed to see that despite their Good Friday period of withering and dropping seeds and their long Holy Saturday period of hibernating in the ground for a year, that their period of new life, their Resurrection, would come.

My sunflowers are blooming again, locked on the light, the source of their nourishment. They are reminding me, as they have for the last four years, that new life will come, even in this long period of transition.

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Becky Eldredge
Becky Eldredge is a writer and spiritual director in Baton Rouge, LA. The author of Busy Lives & Restless Souls and The Inner Chapel, Becky holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Education from Louisiana State University and a Masters in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University New Orleans. She has her Certificate in Spiritual Direction from Spring Hill College. Becky has been involved in ministry for more than 15 years, with the majority of her work in retreat ministry and adult faith formation. While ministry is one of her passions, her greatest joy is sharing life with her husband, Chris, and her children, Brady, Abby, and Mary.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Some years ago Carey Landry wrote music for children. One of the lovely songs was ” Like a Sunflower” which speaks of the above references to following the sun (Son). Although it is a child’s song it touched my own spirit when I taught it to my Liturgical music classes in a parochial school. Hope we can all find it and reflect on it.

  2. Thank you for the beautiful imagery. I am experiencing a dark night of the soul which I’m learning to embrace as a cycle in life. In this crazy world it’s no wonder that I have experienced a death of all that I thought was real. I was that flower proudly gleaming toward the light. And now the life I’ve known has withered and died. But not my spirit and not my need for our loving God. I am learning through the Spiritual Excercises to embrace who I truly am. It’s been painful, and I look forward to my resurection with a renewed vocation for God.

    • Annie, I appreciate it when you say “I am learning through the Spiritual Excercises to embrace who I truly am.” I have just completed the 19th Annotation and have found the Spiritual Exercises transformational. I pray that you will find this as well. God bless.

  3. Perhaps some of those seeds could find their way to Texas with you. The continuity inherent in gardening has taught me so much over long periods of time that eventually turned into a lifetime.
    I hope you get to take a few seeds with you to see what they teach you as time goes by in your new home. In the meantime, enjoy the wonder of those sunflowers right where you are.

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