The pickled sunflower? A curious combination of words. A twisted and interesting imagery that fits together perfectly, teaches a principle . . . and tells a story.
It was a warm summer day. I was barefoot and still remember the feeling of cool grass on my toes. Life was good as a child and playing with cousins made the day even better. The afternoon snack? Only the best. A great big dill pickle that we would hold with a paper towel wrapped around the base to keep the juice from dripping down our arms.
I remember the day my Mom taught me what I was really eating - a cucumber. A cucumber? Disbelief. My raised eyebrows challenged the thought. And so I received my first orientation on the pickling process. The process of cleaning and preparing the cucumber so that it could then be completely immersed in the brine solution for a period of time. Long enough that the pickling process will have run its full course. That process and that waiting period changes the cucumber forever. Still a cucumber, of course, but changed into something different . . . better.
And so it is with us.
Life is generally good – and happy – and predictable. And then it all changes. People, places and things happen. Events jump into our perfectly laid plans and invite chaos. That smooth path that we strolled down with wildflowers and bees humming now heads up the steep ridge. A ridge which has jagged rocks and sticks that trip. We sometimes find ourselves on our knees.
Long enough that the pickling process will have run its full course. And we are changed into something different . . . better.
Lessons learned. New insight. Strengthened character and a softer heart. Humility.
We are changed.
Some endure those rocky trails better than others. On the hard hike they square their shoulders, hold up their head, and look to the light.
Like a sunflower.
What’s not to love about a sunflower? Bright, yellow and cheerful. They just look happy. I’m in good company. Even Van Gogh was inspired by them.
The sunflower follows the sun. They love warmth and light. As the sun comes up they turn their necks and follow the path of the sun during their greatest period of growth. They need pollination so they face the sun expecting bees and insects to provide service. They know that healthy patterns are found in the light.
Just as they are for us.
If we understand why we are here we can find comfort. Faith gives perspective during the hard hikes. Even when waiting in the brine solution.
We can look for patterns. A whisper that says – you matter.
And we find that in the light.