Catherine Ann Lombard, M.A.

Sunflower Lessons

Aug 23, 2011

There are times in my life when I know I am trying too hard. No matter what I seem to do, nothing works, eases forward, sings in tune. As a gardener in my backyard, I can dig the earth, feed it with the richest manure, insure it has enough calcium, carefully sow the seeds, faithfully water, fuss over the tiniest plants, pull weeds, and even pray. And still nothing grows. Sometimes I forget about God. Oh yeah, that Guy. He also might have something to say. In fact, his Will might be bigger and beyond what I can imagine can grow in anybody’s garden. In anybody’s heart and soul.

I recently learned a lesson from my sunflowers. This year they grew with only the Hand of God to tend them. Last year, we carefully planted sunflowers which grew and blossomed. Once the flowers hung heavy with seed, tipping their heads like bowing monks, we cut and left them on our terrace for the birds to swoop down and eat from. The chickadees and blue tits would shyly flutter from the sunflower stalks down to the plate-like flower, steel a seed and speed home. By the end of the day, discarded seeds and shells would lay strewn on the terrace floor to be swept away.

These instinctual, hungry birds and my unwitting broom were the unknown planters of this year’s new crop of sunflowers. The seeds lay buried for months under ice and snow, waiting for the breathe of spring warmth to release them. They grew. And they grew. And they grew. The largest 10.5 feet tall (3.45 meters) stands in front of the very spot where the birds dined last year. We only had to water when the rain did not come and watch in wonder.

Many people don’t believe in God these days. God is rather passé. They want scientific proof set before their eyes. Or they are more comfortable with the Buddha and nothingness. Some have been abused by and in the name of institutions that claim to believe in God, but are only shelters for frightened people who cling to ideological certainty and flee from mystery.

But, if you open your eyes, you will see God at the point where the invisible becomes visible. God is in the sunflower that grows beyond what I can imagine or try to grow by myself. God is in the bird who eats and, at the same time, plants what it needs to eat in the coming year. God is in the naïve woman who thinks she can tend a garden when, at times, all she needs to do is sweep her terrace.



Moving Towards Joy