I know this title may raise some eyebrows but it’s really true. As an amateur gardener I have had the pleasure of learning many lessons from my vegetable and flower garden most recently as a result of hurricane Isaias. (I still can’t pronounce this name!!)
In Early May our town was giving out free packets of sunflower seeds. They encouraged us to plant them as a way of uplifting our town during the Covid pandemic and seeing them would make us smile and brighten our day. I happily picked up my packet of 12 seeds and followed the planting directions carefully.
After a few weeks of caring for the spouts the day came to plant them outdoors. It felt like I was sending my children off to the first day of kindergarten. I placed them all carefully into their spots and then constructed a make-shift mini fence around each one. Can you tell what kind of parent I would have been? I watched them like a hawk everyday. Some faired better than others and 4 in particular shot up and had very strong thick stems and had the promise of turning into big flowers.
It took quite some time for them to grow to the point that they were ready to flower. Then comes hurricane Isaias. The wind was blowing so strong I could see them getting pummeled and I was very worried. I quickly threw on my shoes and raincoat and ran outside in an attempt to give them support with some tall bamboo rods. The wind was dangerously strong making it unsafe for me and I had no choice but to leave them on their own for the duration of the storm.
The next day I looked out my window and to my amazement all of the sunflowers in the front made it through the storm! Then I looked out my back window and two out of three had fallen on the ground; one was completely severed and the other was bent with a large gash in it’s stem. Naturally I assumed only one would survive.
Three days later I looked out the window again and the sunflower that was severely hurt and lying on the ground was still alive. To my joy and amazement its bud was still attempting to follow the sun. I ran outside to see if I could save it. The stem had a bad 8 inch split but I was able to support it with bamboo rods and a bandage. She stood again injured but proud!
I watched as the other sunflower next to her bloomed into a large bud attracting all the pollinators. I examined the bud up close and was stunned the the beauty of how mathematically perfect it was. The injured plant carried on but was developing more slowly and gradually. The familiar green bud appeared and then to my amazement I noticed not only was there one bud but there were 5 buds in total!! My injured plant was going to bloom more than any of the others! Wow!!
Not only is it true for plants that overcoming adversity and suffering helps them to open, strengthen and develop resiliency but it’s true for all living things. It was so beautiful, simple and powerful to watch the sunflower flourish despite having endured such a test.
I learned a lot from watching my sunflower. It wasn’t thinking about its struggle it was just engaged in a natural process called life. Life threw it a curve ball and it had no resistance and there was no need to process feelings or overcome past conditioning. It was tremendously reassuring for me to watch its progress and see that adversity and suffering is just a part of the natural unfolding of life for all living things. It’s not only natural but an essential part of life that helps us all to thrive and grow even stronger than we thought possible. Next time you have to weather a storm of your own be on the look out for the gifts you unexpectedly receive.