One morning I rode my bike near a field of sunflowers. As I pedaled by, they were wagging their heads seductively – like Sirens. How could I resist such charms?
I got off the bike and approached them. The sunflowers I’d first seen from the road, I saw only from behind. Now I saw their faces. They were doing something no human being can do without doing harm to oneself; looking the sun squarely in the eye. They relish all the light that the universe throws at them. We often scramble for the shadows, too afraid that light will expose us.
Like congregations of a church, the sunflowers were in rows, dressed in their Sunday best. They were behaving more like Quakers who worship silently than say, Episcopalians, who sing hymns, endure sermons, pray out loud and whisper to one another throughout worship. The sunflowers only rocked their heads side to side, as if listening to the breeze or to the sun delivering a soundless meditation, and each flower in response nodding a gentle assent.
Except for those in one corner of the field, most faced the sun. There, the sunflowers turned every which way, as if uncertain, not sure of their place, like parishioners who come late to a service looking for a seat. I wondered why? Then I saw that shade fell in that corner of the field, and as the sun rose, exposing the sunflowers to the light, they were caught looking the wrong way and were, in a manner of speaking, getting their heads on straight.
It had become murderously hot. Flies deviled me. Although uncomfortable, I felt a pure, spontaneous delight and I laughed out loud. Was anybody looking? Surely, they’d think I was crazy. I wasn’t crazy, just surprised by joy, and with the pleasure that comes by being surrounded with sunflowers’ radiant faces as they commune with the sun. They offered me their hospitality and lots of delight. I’d had my day in the sun and my heart was much the lighter for it.
A sunflower is more than just a pretty face.