by Michelle Jester
We traveled close to two hours to get there. It was a hot day, not unexpected in Louisiana, so a dear friend, Taylor, and I loaded up water bottles and started the small road trip. The drive was nice, the sun was out and the sky was an amazing blue, spotted with puffy clouds. Once we got there, we started walking and quickly noticed many of the rows in the sunflower field had already been cut. That was really the purpose of this field, to harvest the annual sunflowers, so it wasn’t a big surprise. We did plan to cut a few ourselves to bring home, however, we really made this trip to enjoy each others company and take pictures. Taylor and I kept walking in hopes we’d make it to one of the majestic fields we’d seen online, when we came upon a single sunflower lying on the ground. It's stem had been trampled upon and left to decay. The stalk had been stepped on so many times while it lay there, that it barely had any firmness left to it, except closer to the flower itself. Anyone who knows about sunflowers, and know how stiff their stalks are, will readily understand just how much it had to have been tread upon.
But it was beautiful. Lying there, face up towards the sun, the flower itself was near perfect! And although it's life line was tattered it was still attached to the ground; though beaten, it had not been severed.
As I bent to pick it up, I thought of earlier that morning. I had looked forward to this day for weeks. I’ve been in edits on my next book and was emotionally exhausted and needed the break. I’d bought all of the girls going on this trip together brightly colored garden gloves, packed an ice chest full of water bottles, lunch, and made sure to add several picnic blankets to my trunk. A respite with friends. Yet earlier that day started out with me crying ...and I related to that flower somehow.
I picked it up near the flower where the stalk was still firm and held it closer to the sun. I took a few pictures of it, turned with it in my hand, until I had framed Taylor in a few shots. I wanted so badly to cut it and keep it, to let it beautify my life, bring it with me to dress up my home, only I couldn't.
So, I smiled, bent down and propped what short amount of the stalk was left firm, near the ground against one of the rows, facing the sun.
I thought to myself, even in our trampled state of life, we can still be beautiful. It isn't about how many people walk on us or over us. Our life lines may be tattered by them, but the life is still there. I thanked God for the encouragement I received (and sorely needed) from His creation and moved forward with the day.
As Taylor and I laughed and enjoyed ourselves we started to notice, the more we walked through the fields- though breathtakingly beautiful as a whole, the other flowers were torn and somewhat ragged. From a distance they looked incredible. All standing tall together. Yet up close they were each worn in ways. It was the end of their season, after all. Huge bees were all abuzz around us. Some flowers had up to ten bees eating from them. Those sunflowers served their purpose to the pollination builders and supplying them with nectar. I soon realized that the bees were only around our heads, busying themselves around the flowers.
None were at our feet.
Then, I thought back to that one lone, nearly perfect sunflower, laying on the ground. Having been readily stamped upon. The irony hit me, because of that, it was more beautiful than the rest. The paradox that it literally was saved from being used and drained like the others. I knew without a doubt it would outlive all the other flowers in that field if no one cut it away.
I realized our lives are all much like that flower. Sometimes, we are left trampled on the ground. However, it may be that through those times we are really being saved in the long run. Saved from being hurt, abused, or used. Saved from being sapped of all our resources. Maybe when we are trampled over, taking the time while we are lying on the floor could be just the rest we need to live longer, stand stronger, and retain our strength. The day with Taylor, emotionally raw as it was, gave us the time together that we didn’t realize we both needed. A true respite with a friend. I was made stronger.
For in our weakest state, we are made strong.
And we lay there and rest, with our faces turned toward the sun.