“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows. It’s what the sunflowers do.” ~Helen Keller

4 Lessons from the Sunflower Farm

Last fall I photographed my niece’s senior pictures at a sunflower farm. The contrast of golden sunflower orbs against the cornflower blue sky was a spectacular backdrop.  As the day progressed, a chill rippled our skin as the September sun set behind the Blue Ridge Mountains. The sunflowers, which earlier faced east, now faced west toward the setting sun.  Upon reflection, I discovered four lessons from the sunflower farm.

Lesson 1: Seek Truth                                        

Months later, a social media post about sunflowers caught my attention. This post described how sunflowers face each other on cloudy days to share energy and suggested we too should be a sunflower. While the concept is cute, my degree in Biology reminded me it is scientifically wrong.

Sunflowers are a part of the (Asteraceae) family, which tracks the arc of the sun in a phenomenon known as heliotropism.[1] During their growing season, sunflowers track the movement of the sun throughout the day from east to west. Overnight, sunflowers reset their position, swinging their head eastward.

 

Lesson 2: God is in the Details (Okay, I nerd out on this!)

Our Creator and Sustainer genetically wired the sunflower plant to follow the sun. A study published in Science magazine reveals sunflowers track with the arc of the as a result of genes clicking ‘on’. At night, these genes click ‘off’ while another set of genes switch ‘on’ to move the heads back east.[2] Even on cloudy or rainy days, a growing sunflower will track the sun from east to west. Heliotropism is the manner in which God strengthens the sunflower stalk to carry the weight of the giant golden head. As a Christian and a scientist, I am in awe of the tiniest of details God uses in His creation to echo His compassion. He also wired us to follow the Son.

Sunflowers track the sun

Lesson 3: Spiritual Parallel with Sunflowers

Sunflowers represent a spiritual parallel for those growing in Christ. Like the growing sunflowers, we need to track the Son and follow His direction daily. During tough times, when trouble rains and our vision is cloudy, we must continue to seek the Lord and his face, follow His heart even when we can’t see His hand.

 

Sunflowers

Lesson 4: Created for Community

While the social media post about sunflowers facing each other on cloudy days was scientifically incorrect, it is important to not to live in isolation. God desires us to be in relationship with Him and with others. Isolation is not good for our soul.  Spending authentic time with friends refreshes the soul and lifts each other’s burdens. Calling upon authentic friends unlocks the door to hidden strength to carry on.

When we cannot see the Lord working and cloudy vision blocks our way, we need link arms with our fiercest friends and prayer warriors and to press on like the sunflower and face the Son.

April White ©2020

 

References:

[1] https://homeguides.sfgate.com/flowers-turn-toward-sun-70110.html

[2] https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/research-reveals-how-and-why-sunflowers-turn-their-golden-heads-180960042/

Photos by author and  Laura Gilchrist and Derek Thomson on Unsplash

P.S.

The 2020 Beaver Dam Sunflower Festival is September 12th from 9 am-6 pm. Check out the site for more information. 

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