The sunflowers are back, yellowing ditches and cornfield borders and the south edge of the barn. I used to find sunflowers a nuisance, honestly. But that was before my little Anna found beauty in the weeds. That was before she pinpointed God in the sunflower patches.
A reprint of a 2008 blog post:
My preschooler, Anna, helped me see God this week in an unexpected place — amidst the weeds. The ditches along my country roads are filled with towering sunflowers this time of year.
The sunflowers have made their way into my landscaping, and along our dusty driveway. I pay little attention to them, except to pluck them when they shoot up between my rose bushes. I spray them with weed-killer when they try to steal the spotlight from my Russian sage. They are, after all, weeds.
I looked out my kitchen window this morning, and I saw a clump of them standing clumsily by the shed.
I want to kill them. Anna wants to pick them.
I see weeds. Anna sees beauty.
I see an annoyance. Anna sees the handiwork of God.
It brings to mind the verses from 1 Kings 19, where God tells Elijah to go stand on the mountain, “for the LORD is about to pass by.” A powerful wind tore through the mountains, but the LORD was not in the wind. An earthquake shook the ground, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, came a fire. But the LORD was not in the fire.
After the fire came a gentle whisper.
And that’s where God showed up — in the form of a small, still voice. Not in the howling wind. Not in the earthquake. Not in the fire.
In the whisper.
This week, He showed up again, this time in the sunflower patches, while I was busy looking for Him in the steeples. My four-year-old daughter showed me how to see Him there.
“Mommy,” she said from the back seat as I steered the van past clumps of sunflowers growing in the ditch. “Let’s pick those flowers.”
I say nothing. These are weeds, after all.
“Mommy? Can we?”
“Oh, honey, those old weeds?” I respond.
“They aren’t weeds. They’re pretty flowers, Mommy! I want to take some to that place where Daddy’s Grandpa is.”
Grandpa Milo died in 2005 and is buried in the cemetery east of town. Funny, how Anna would think to take flowers to a grave of a grandfather she never knew.
Grandpa Milo died when Anna was still a baby. On the morning he died, I carried her into the nursing home on my hip. At age 95, Grandpa was the oldest of the Lee family. At age 10 months, Anna was the youngest.
“Mommy? Pleeeeeeease?” begs the four-year-old in the back seat.
“Maybe this afternoon, OK? But, Anna, Great-Grandpa’s not actually in the cemetery, you know. He’s in Heaven.”
“I know that, silly Mommy. But I want to take him some of the flowers. Can we, Mommy?”
“Sure, Anna,” I answer. “We’ll do that.”
I won’t miss hearing God speaking this time. Anna and I will go to the backyard this afternoon. We’ll pick the blooms off the clumsy plant by the barn. We’ll take a bit of God’s handiwork to Great-Grandpa.
And we’ll know it’s God speaking … in a small, still voice.
(Photo: A floral delivery to Great-Grandpa’s grave.)