It pokes its sunny face up through the soil where it doesn’t belong—right between the Blue Lakes and the purple onions—a gift from that renegade squirrel, I think.
It grew quiet at first, unassuming—hidden beneath the twining vines of the beans. Unbeknownst to me, I watered that sleeping seed along with the tomatoes and peppers, the onions and cucumbers. It must have sipped deep, for soon it was nudging the bedclothes aside…awakening. 
I thought of pulling it up once. My little bed is so crowded as it is. So many things competing for the soil and the sun and the life-giving water. But every time I see it there my heart leaps for joy. And I  think about growing things reaching for the light from out of the dark places. 
One day, a heart-shaped face emerged—all curled up like a fist—until petals unfurled like fingers, loosening their grip on the precious heart, opening its center to the sun. The stem pushes up through the dark earth and leaves unfold like wings. But it’s the honeybees and goldfinches who make it fly–carrying bits of that sunflower away to surprise another gardener one day.
It doesn’t feel like we can keep doing this, I tell my praying friend just this morning. I just want a few days where I don’t have to think about anything. Just a few.
She nods, because she understands. In her worry lines I see my own face.
Sometimes it feels like giving up would be best. If I only lived for me, wouldn’t life be easier? All these plans and dreams and this Word I try to share…sometimes it feels like pushing up against stone. And I think I would be happier if I could just live my life—go to work and come home. Teach the kids to be kind and to pray and take them to practices.
But even as I wonder about these things, I know it would be no good. Once a seed is planted, the thing it wants to do is grow.
And I open up Nouwen this morning and he tells me this:
A seed only flourishes by staying in the ground in which it is sown. When you keep digging the seed up to check whether it is growing, it will never bear fruit. Think about yourself as a little seed planted in rich soil. All you have to do is stay there and trust that the soil contains everything you need to grow. This growth takes place even when you don’t feel it. Be quiet, acknowledge your powerlessness, and have faith that one day you will know how much you have received.
From the kitchen table where I do my morning readings I can see my little raised bed garden. And that sunflower that sits on the edge of it? The one right in the middle of a tangle of growing things that I planted?
It sure looks beautiful today. 
Blogging in community with Michelle today.

This week’s memory verse:
Check previous Tuesday posts for prior verses.

For memory cards of the whole book of James visit this post.


  1. says

    sunflowers…i guess if you been to my place you know…love…love…and that quote…oh I have spent too much time in the past digging up seed…checking for fruit…trying to bear before it’s time…so thankful He is teaching me to abide…let all life come from the vine… not growing weary because in due season…in due season…we will reap a harvest. enjoy the beauty of the day…this sunflower gift:)

  2. says

    I have a couple of renegade sunflowers this summer … self-planted from fallen birdseed during the winter months. Who would guess that what is sown in winter snows will blossom in summer sun. Its happy face is just beginning to bloom and it makes my heart happy just to watch it unfold.

  3. says

    Wow, there’s so much simple truth and beauty in this post. Thank you for introducing us to your flower-friend, nodding in the sunlight as you read and reflect and pray and write.

  4. Anonymous says

    One of the joys in life is finding that a seed sown has grown into fruit or flower. Never doubt the wisdom of God’s plan in your life and the lives you touch. I am truly amazed when I see the fruits of His labor come back to me.

  5. says

    Nouwen always gets to the heart of issue. I’ve dug up some seeds but I’ve found growth is stunted when I do. I’m raising my head to the sun–make that SON!

    Brilliant photographs.

  6. says

    I have few gardening skills to speak of. Make that no gardening skills. Yet, every once in a while I think about dropping sunflower seeds in random locations in my yard, just to see what happens. It’s too late for this summer but, having read this, I think I just might do a little stealth planting next spring. And I’ll think of you taking root and growing strong.

  7. says

    I’ve had this link open since yesterday and am finally enjoying a quiet moment to sit and read. Let the words travel the waves from the voice in my head to the soil in my heart.

    These words, so beautiful and perfectly paired with those photos.

    Most of all, though, I love your honesty. I remember one time a minister said to me, “You can be one of those people who just go to church on Sunday, if then, live life as you wish. But you will never be satisfied.”

    He knew the seed had been planted long ago.

  8. says

    oh friend, this speaks right to me. I want to be the accidental beauty that grows on the edge of tangle and not the weary one thinking too much, spinning wheels, worrying. Just being is a gift. I love the one line especially about once a seed is planted, the thing it wants to do is grow. So much in that sentence for me. Thank you.

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