The first year of growing sunflowers from seed was surprising to me. I had no idea how long it took to bear that magnificent flower. The green was nice, but no flowers for what felt like forever. Being the black thumb that I am, I thought it was my fault, but according to my gardening green thumb friends, they said it takes time and told me to be patient. The flower will come they told me, and it did. Unfortunately a squirrel ate the tops of all but one, but one beautiful, definitely worth the wait flower appeared after many weeks of waiting. I stood in awe and took may photos.
That was a few years back. The last couple of years I have purchased packets of seeds but never quite managed to get them in the ground until this year. Probably a few weeks later than real gardeners I planted my seeds. This time I know to be patient and to guard my plants from squirrels, but I also learned something new. I noticed the plants have been following the sun all through its days of growing. (I know, I know, some of you are saying duh, it is a sunflower after all). I guess I assumed it only did that when the flower appeared. Each morning they salute the sun rising over the hill and follow it until it sets over the trees on the other side of the yard.
I have been thinking a lot about seasons, fruit, and bearing fruit. The sunflowers in my yard have no fruit to speak of right now, but they continue to practice a habit that helps it to grow healthy and strong. Even without its namesake flower, it behaves like a sunflower following the sun. I was thinking that it is easy to lose heart waiting, like I did the first year because there is no evidence of fruit, but really it was about persevering in what we know to be true because we trust the Creator’s heart to produce the fruit in season.
It is easy for me to judge my personal seasons by fruit alone, and when there is no fruit visible to my eye I want to give up, or move on to the next season, hoping it will produce something, but my sunflowers are teaching me to be faithful in what I know to be true, because if I practice that and lean into the promises, the fruit will come. When I am faithful, the season is still productive even without the evidence. A verse I come back to often is Galatians 6:9, “Do not grow weary in doing good for in due time you will reap a harvest, if you do not give up.” For a long time I quoted just the first part and somehow dropped off the last little phrase, “if you do not give up.”
If I am honest I want it to be plug along and the fruit will be obvious to your eyes all the way through, but really it is about the faithfulness in practicing and persevering that produces the fruit. If my sunflowers produced the fruit immediately, the plant would not be ready to hold it up. If it waited to follow the sun through the sky until the flower appeared, the stalk would probably be too rigid and unable to move. The full life span of the flower is daily practicing and growing until the fullness of time for the flower. Even the beautiful flower is only part of the season, it then dries up and produces a full harvest of seeds to make more sunflowers in a different season.
My sunflowers are helping me to remember to practice the things that make me stronger in season and out, with or without evidence of fruit, or with little evidence that fruit will ever come, because He is faithful and asks me to be also.