Consider the Flowers of the Field
As some of you know, I love to ride my bike and recently, I've particularly enjoyed riding my new cyclocross bike. A cyclocross bike is a modified road bike frame with cantilever mud-clearing brakes and knobby tires. It allows you to ride off-road comfortably and on the road efficiently and quickly. Plus, it’s so close to a road bike in fit, it doesn’t play with your positioning! Anyway, on a recent early morning ride in the Marshall Mesa open space, I was struck by the wild sunflowers lining the dirt road. Sunflowers always grab my attention with their bright yellow petals and their unabashed cheeriness. They put a smile on my face no matter my mood. On this day, I was enthralled again by the way the sunflowers seem to naturally angle themselves eastward toward the rising sun. It’s as if they anticipate its rising and get ready to position themselves so that they can best view it and absorb its warmth and light. I found myself humming, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee,” especially that line, “Hearts unfold like flowers before thee, opening to the sun above.” Those sunflowers made me think of our lives—do we orient ourselves towards God’s warmth and light? The sunflowers do so naturally; they simply do what they’re made for. They seem to want to be in the best position possible to absorb all they can from the sun. There’s a lesson there for us. If we’ve been made to know and love God, if we are uniquely created in God’s image, if our “hearts are restless ‘til they rest in God” (St. Augustine), wouldn’t we want to be angled toward God as well?
And yet there seems to be much evidence that we don’t want this. Or at least act like we do. Much of the time, we live life uprooted: we settle for artificial light and indoor potting soil. Instead of unfolding boldly in God’s presence, we shrink from God’s brightness, wrap our petals around ourselves, coil inward…and wither. Made to be like sunflowers, we too often live like pressed flowers, having once known fresh brightness, we now live life compressed, hedged in by stress and busyness and distraction. What would it take, I wonder, for us to emulate the sunflowers on Marshall open space? Would it begin in trust—genuinely believing that opening ourselves fully and freely to God would bring deep joy? Would it demand a soil change—uprooting from some things or behaviors or relationships which drain us of true life? Would it require intentionality—positioning ourselves before God in a regular way, so as to be bathed in his light? Recall the wise words of Jesus: “Consider the [flowers] of the field, how they grow…” (Matthew 6:28). How are you growing these days?
Do you see why I love riding my bike?