Dead Sunflowers Along the Road

As I ponder some of the sights around us, I see beauty, I see struggle, I see family, I see division, I see community, I see life, I see death. We often focus on the positive and quickly look past the less than positive.

We might compliment a well maintained yard, a cute house, or a photogenic nature scene. But we quickly look past, or even shake our heads, at scenes like houses in need of repair, yards or gardens left to grow wild, or trash littered-attention needing-run down locations. But life is made of both. We are not in Shangri La … the perfect utopia where everything is an Instagram worthy photo opportunity.

I want to spend a few days, scattered over the next several weeks, sharing things I see around my little hamlet. (To my British readers, my township does have a church, but we are small enough of a village I use this term.)

Right down the road from my abode is a beautiful little plot of land of a couple acres that was turned into a sunflower patch. I would pass this several times a day and watch the stalks grow, the flowers bloom, and people would be stopping by to take advantage of sunny day photo ops in the sunflower patch. It was a beautiful sight.

But the flowers lost there luster. The sunny yellow hue is gone. The heavy heads to the stalks are now drooping back to the ground, no longer seeking the sun. The seeded flowers are darkening and the field now looks like a scene from a Stephen King novel. It’s glory is past. The cameras no longer point to the field. People drive by and no longer pay attention.

I think of the line from a not so well known poem …

Poor dead flower? When did you forget you were a flower?

Allan Ginsberg, “Sunflower Sutra”

But in reality, the best is yet to to come. The purpose of the plant is not to look pretty but to produce seeds. Seeds that will flavor food, seeds that will be ground into flour and become bread, seeds that baseball players will stuff into their mouth, seeds that will be planted back in the ground to produce more plants and more seeds.

This reminds me of a powerful truth. If you’re still around, and if you’re reading this you are still around, God has something for you. It may not be something that turns eyes, draws attention, or demands photos to be taken. But it may be something that has long lasting impact on others. Grandparents teaching virtues to grandkids, waitresses showing compassion to someone having a difficult time, teachers encouraging kids to reach far and grow in passions, hairstylists helping someone feel good about themselves, or college students letting professors know that their efforts are making an impact.

So, don’t just drive by a field of dead sunflowers and ignore it. Realize it teaches is God isn’t done with any of us.

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