It’s that time of year.
In my home, seedlings have been growing in small cups since March. They need to be potted for the deck garden. There is something very mystical in observing seeds sprout and grow. Tiny shells break open, push up from the dark earth, and grow into strong, extraordinary things. Life in all its forms is a miracle. Sometimes we take a great deal for granted and forget to find joy in the simplest things.
One of my loves is sunflowers. In my opinion, giant or miniature ones are the monarchs of all flowers. They have resilience and an understated majesty all their own. They exude confidence, but not arrogance. They show wisdom without vanity. They feel the earth’s heartbeat. They listen thoughtfully without judgment. In the face of storms they stand strong and courageous, comparable only to a mighty tree.
At the end of the season they give of themselves selflessly, letting birds, deer, and other creatures, including us, be nourished from their seeds. They bring together a community of nature. They instruct about wholeness. They show how to let go and be humble.
Their beautiful brown faces turn to the sun, the light, to the hope that each day brings. In their deep brown purity you can see the call of Holy Wisdom. It is in such simple things that spiritual sustenance can be drawn. It can enable someone to rise above the temptation to demand an eye for an eye. It can teach someone to be generous in praise and guarded and selective in criticism. The sunflower keeps me grounded.
Lessons from nature
You may think it odd that so much can be learned from the sunflower. Yet all around us plants, flowers, and animals offer lessons. Their voices are softer than a whisper. Find quiet and stillness to hear them. The wisdom will not be given. You must journey into the lessons. It takes work. Finding quiet and stillness is part of the effort. These miracles of nature teach perspective.
Find the joy, regardless
No matter what kind of day or week you think you’re having, it’s a good day. Find joy in it. If a boss or colleague has been difficult, buy yourself some flowers. Take the time to appreciate the colors and smells. If you’ve had an argument with a loved one, share a box of chocolates. If someone cuts you off in traffic today, wish them well. It’s not worth the time or energy to be angry. If you spilled coffee on yourself on the way to work, get over it. You won’t melt and they’re only clothes.
Social transition and all it means to us
Approach the broader issues of life the same way. The nation is in a period of great social transition. Sadly, there are bigoted, hateful messages that will continue to circulate. This year will be another watershed year for civil and human rights. Even the most grounded person can get dejected by the bombardment of negative opinions about the very nature of one’s personhood. In the end, however, no one can make you feel bad. It’s your choice.
Life is about keeping things in perspective to transcend and transform. Personally, as long as there are sunflowers, all is right in the world. Like you, they’re one of God’s beautiful creations. Remember to identify with something bigger than yourself and feel connected to the greater universe. This world would be incomplete without you.
* Paul is an author, attorney, and a seminary trained, ordained priest in greater Albany, N.Y. E-mail questions to Dilovod@aol.com.