Image by NatureFriend from Pixabay
…Even on cloudy days the sunflower continues to follow the sun in its focused love, even though it cannot see the sun. The Sun that illumines our life’s path is the will of God. It does not always shine on us without clouds, often, clear days are followed by overcast days when rains, winds, and storms arise, No Christian is safe from these phenomena, these changes in spiritual weather. May our love for the Sun, the will of God, be as strong as the sunflower’s, so that even in days of hardship and sorrow, we will continue to sail unerringly along the sea of life, following the directions of the barometer and compass of God’s will that leads us to the safe haven of eternity. ~ St. John of Tobolsk from The Sunflower
Greetings on the 3rd Sunday since the Great Feast of Pentecost! Today all English, Welsh, Irish and Scottish Orthodox Saints who’ve shone forth from the British Isles and Ireland are commemorated! Their separate Liturgical Dates and Services are listed here.
Of course, what we know, admire, and aspire to in the lives of the Saints are their examples of faith, perseverance, and endurance… How they struggled to rise above challenges and afflictions, showing us how Christ can be imitated in everyone’s life, including our own.
I would like to share a continuing story (combo allegory) on the trials, tribulations and triumphs of April… who’s not a Saint, but a saintly sunflower.
Once upon a recent time, a certain girl, on her way home from school, spied and rescued a sprouting sunflower. It sat forlornly in a glass jam jar, on top of a brightly painted Garden Seed Exchange Mailbox.
Being such a cold spring, it was too risky to plant seedling directly into the soil. But, by the end of May, it became warm enough to transplant April the Sunflower (as she was duly dubbed), into our garden.
April’s young human tended her daily. Concerned over her bent, spindly, stem, we gently staked the wee sunflower to a tiny support and hoped for more sun.
Two days later, it was like a crime scene. April had been ravaged by a gang of rogue beetles or slugs. Her crown was viciously chomped off, her stem gashed, and only one remaining sliver of a leaf remained.
We transplanted April into her very own pot away from the garden, and a few days later heaved sighs of relief upon seeing new side growth sprouting… until alas, she was targeted again! Things looked bleak indeed, and it seemed the compost bin might be the valiant sunflower’s next stop… but the young gardener remained hopeful.
For April’s moral support we solemnly popped in a sunflower “sister” seed beside her. (I secretly thought that if April succumbed, the new seed growing alongside her would help soften the blow.)
Nevertheless, and after sprinkling used coffee grounds on top of April’s soil, further gnawings ceased, and we joked that perhaps the java’s success was because the nasty bugs were simply hard-core tea grannies.
Each morning April was thoroughly inspected, watered as needed, and praised with encouraging words. Her young caregiver is the epitome of stalwart optimism.
April’s “sister” sprouted in sympathetic solidarity. And although April remains bent and scarred, each day gifts us with seeing tiny new leaves emerge and grow. Even her bent, weakened, stalk tries to straighten.
April is teaching us how to persevere by example – no matter how hard things seem, and how to flourish by “looking up”. April continues to thrive, and her youthful gardener knows that while April may never fully recover enough to flower, she’s living vibrantly... in the moment, uplifting up her little leafy arms as if in supplication to the sunshine, regardless.
The young gardener is away on a summer holiday, and I was bequeathed the noble task of attending April. I transplanted April’s sister (and dubbed her “June”) into another pot a couple of days ago. They both needed more space… as sisters sometimes do.
I’m sure that long after April’s sunflowery life passes into God’s Eternal Garden, she’ll be fondly remembered for her inspirational examples of fortitude.
Meanwhile, the young gardener texts me, “How’s April?” and I’ve sent her pictures of April and June in their new, separate digs – much her great relief and satisfaction.
When a certain girl comes home from holiday, I’m pretty sure the first place she’ll zoom to is our patio, to see how April fares… Quite possibly before she seeks to greet or pat her beloved, and much pined-for kitty!
Do stay tuned for the possible, future adventures of – April in August… And keep looking up. There’s Sonshine above those clouds! 🌻