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.


  1. 1lori_1 says

    Oh….this is beautiful really and truly. I love sunflowers. I meant to plant some this year, but never did. I will just enjoy yours! Thank you….Lori

  2. Maureen says

    I think sunflowers grow as big as they do so that we never miss the joy they bring. The bigger, the better. A field of these is so delightful.

  3. lindalouise says

    Oh, I know those feelings Laura. Some days I talk to the Father and ask Him how He can bear it all. Doesn’t He just want to throw up His hands and walk away? I think from now on I will picture your beautiful sunflower.

  4. smoothstones says

    “When you keep digging the seed up
    to check whether it is growing, it will never bear fruit.” Wow. Look, you need to know your work helps me. I know it helps others, too. Be encouraged.

  5. Kelly Hausknecht Chripczuk says

    Hmmm . . . Laura, I think you are one of those honeybees or goldfinches, helping this flower to fly and bring hope to so many. I guess that’s the way it is with hope – it lifts and flutters and spreads on the wind like dandilion fluff. Thank you for reminding me.

  6. Maria Angelique says

    I love this “Be quiet, acknowledge your powerlessness, and have faith that one day you will know how much you have received.” I know personally, sometimes it is scary to acknowledge that we are powerless especially if you are an always-in-control person. But I have found that in that by admitting to that powerlessness, I indeed find more power from God through my faith that things will get better. Thanks for sharing this beautiful reflection.

    Maria @ Bloom

  7. soulstops says

    Ah, yes…lovely and true…learning to trust God that He has given us everything we need to grow…glad you kept the sunflower, sweet friend 🙂

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