The Sunniest Flower
As for mortals, their days are like grass; they flourish like a flower of the field . . . But the steadfast love of God is from everlasting to everlasting.” – Psalm 103:15,17 (NRSVUE)
Our family has one gardening rule: perennials only. Annuals may offer the most vibrant blooms, but by sticking to plain and practical perennials, we prioritize longevity and predictability. Coincidentally, those are two characteristics I wish I could infuse into the rest of my ever changing, precarious life.
This summer we moved into a parsonage with gardens lovingly planted according to a different rule: as much beauty as possible. Outshining the vast array of cheerful plants and colorful flowers is a small patch of sunflowers, waving hello from the farthest corner in the yard, taller and brighter than anything else in eyesight.
Unexpectedly, I found myself devoted to these sunflowers. I make daily pilgrimages to their patch, checking on whose buds are unfolding and whose seeds are bursting, admiring the bumblebees resting on the petals. I am committed to celebrating each day of their summer lifespan. Knowing that soon the sunflowers will droop and die, I dream of planting an even bigger patch next year. Their short-lived beauty brings me more joy than predictability ever did.
Tending to the sunflowers reminds me of the love of God. Rather than denying death by avoiding anything prone to it, God is devoted to each one of our short days, celebrating every stage of our lifecycles, anticipating the changes to come. Perhaps in witnessing our drooping and our deaths, God plots how to bring back life bigger than before, using the seeds of the previous generation to grow anew, harvesting a patch that elicits great joy even if predictability gets left behind.
In the shortness and beauty of life, may we recognize the steadfast love of God. Amen.
Liz Miller serves as the Designated Pastor of Granby Congregational Church, UCC and is the author of Only Work Sundays: A Laidback Guide to Doing Less while Helping Your Church Thrive.