By Lucy Fuller
“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows. It’s what the sunflowers do.” – Helen Keller
This spring I planted sunflower seeds. I have been anxiously awaiting their arrival as they are such a happy flower. I was inspired by George’s Farmers Market to grow my own this year, since frolicking in their sunflower field last year brought me so much joy. I never really gave too much thought as to why I like these tall and stalky flowers so much, aside from the fact that they are just so vividly fun and whimsical.
We had a late start on our garden this year because of the typical unpredictable Alabama weather and a baby who decided to arrive sooner than we planned. God’s timing is always perfect.
Jody and I planted some vegetables in our main garden but my personal/main focus this year was flowers. I planted flowering herbs, a variety of roses, confederate jasmine and my all-time favorite, sunflowers.
I absolutely adore sunflowers. I started them as seeds and have been watching them every day since they poked their tiny, little green heads through the black soil. I excitedly watched them sprout into seedlings, and when they were old enough to place into the garden, I did so with enormous care. I planted them in several locations around our home so that we will be able to enjoy them as they bloom.
We have had some storms visit us lately due to the inclement weather in the gulf. Hurricane season is a
doozy. We had several days and weeks of extremely hard rain and some gusty wind. We are blessed that no major damage occurred as a result of the weather, but unfortunately, it affected our gardens. Some plants survived and some struggled.
The heavy rainfall inhibited the growth of several of plants which have since recovered, thankfully. Some had been knocked over and stems broken. I tried so hard to prop them up gently by strategically placing stakes and ropes for which they could lean on. This added support seemed to help them thrive.
My happy little baby sunflowers seemed to withstand the storm’s damage and continue their steady growth. Then, they came again—this time stronger and heavier. The rain pounded my already healing sunflowers to the ground. Heartbroken, I was sure they were not going to make it this time around.
Again, I handled them with care and precision as I propped them back up and tried to tenderly nurse them back to health. I was sure they were goners.
As I ventured out to my garden over the next several days I was expecting to find the flower stalks keeled over and dried up from the sun. To my surprise, they were still there. They were greener than ever, growing crooked and bent, but their little sleeping faces pointed directly to the sun. I was so impressed by their tenacity and willingness to survive.
These are tough flowers. I like them even more now than I did before I decided to grow them. I look at every experience as an opportunity to learn something new. I was and still am fascinated by this particular flower’s determination to survive after being knocked down so many times.
A dear friend explained this to be called “phototropism.” The term states that it’s the orientation of a plant or other organism in response to light, either toward (positive phototropism) the source of light or away from it (negative phototropism.) In this instance, since the plant was facing towards the light it would be considered “positive phototropism.”
In my 37 years, I have weathered many storms. I have nearly drowned in the heavy downpour of my own tears. I have been blown over and knocked down by winds of change. A few times I felt like I would never be able to stand on my own two feet again. A few times I didn’t want to. Something inside of me kept searching.
Something inside each of us urges us to move forward—to keep going…to keep growing. Something urges us to get back up and keep moving towards the light. We have a built-in compass in our spirit that constantly navigates us towards that light through the darkness. We cannot thrive in the dark. We need light to grow.
Without light a flower cannot bloom. It cannot grow. It is determined to grow because that’s what it’s meant to do. It was planted to grow and bloom. It has a reason. It serves a purpose.
So do I. So do you.
I realized in that very moment that I have so much in common with that broken sunflower. I think we all have so much in common with this fantastically strong plant. If I had to describe it in one word I would use “resilient.”
It gets knocked down countless times, yet never turns its face from the light. It never gives up. After all of the brokenness, after all of the growing and searching for that light, it blooms.
After all of our brokenness, the growth, regrowth, and searching for the light, we bloom.
And you know what happens when you bloom? You become a source of light for someone else.
When you are broken, stretch yourself into the direction of the sun. Through light you will find healing and growth. Then, you bloom.
Lucy Fuller is a lover of nature, animals, gardening, and old houses. She is a full-time mother and wife. She currently resides in Opelika with her husband, two daughters, 3 dogs, and cat. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.