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In these harsh times of unprovoked war in Ukraine, we see images of sunflowers everywhere: in Facebook feeds, artwork, and artificial blooms placed outside homes. Ukraine is a land of blue skies and fields of yellow—grains as well as sunflowers. But what is a sunflower? A plant that grows without fuss—one that can thrive with little watering, added nutrients, or pampering of any sort. It can grow sideways, through cracks in the pavement, or in other harsh conditions. Sunflowers can be planted by birds, squirrels, or wind. These plants that were once considered only a weed by farmers who deliberately planted other crops are now a commercial crop and not just another weed. But, no matter—sunflowers grow regardless of whether we intentionally plant them or not.

In Spanish, the word for sunflower is girasol: turns toward the sun (and, yes, sunflowers do follow the sun). As these days and weeks of great destruction and uncertainty have gone from one month into the next—when it seems so much hangs on the decisions of one person with evil intent—it is time to keep turning to the Son of God. To pray without ceasing, and to send resources—monetary, equipment, or the kinds of human support that operate from without—whatever can be shared. With so much light shining from corners all around the world, how can darkness prevail? Gire al sol—and turn to the Son of God.

And, so I pray:


We turn to you and implore you to wrap your arms around the Ukrainian people—those who defend their homes as well as those who have left behind their homeland as they seek shelter and safety. Comfort those who mourn. We know that you judge between the nations and settle disputes for many peoples. Sow seeds of peace now—so that those currently under siege may safely beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks (reference: Isaiah 2:4). May the sunflowers of Ukraine push through yet this spring.


(c) 2014 Trina Lambert

(c) 2014 Trina Lambert

The south side of our lawn is exploding with color—no thanks to us—well, not directly anyway. Those hollyhocks and sunflowers growing so boldly are volunteers who showed up thanks to what we’ve planted at some point in previous years. Due to efforts from birds, squirrels, and/or wind, they thrive, blooming wherever they find their seeds have taken root, with no particular pattern to where they are growing.

While bees hum and finches burst out in joyful song, I marvel at this harvest of sorts from seeds planted so long ago. These self-seeding plants remind me that even during long fallow periods, new life can spring up from past cultivation. The hollyhocks sunning themselves today are many generations removed from those seeds I put in the soil maybe eight years ago. Yet despite my current neglect of the garden space, they grow thanks to what I began so many seasons before.

When so much about growth seems to be difficult—the constant battles with weeds, bare patches, pests, fluctuating moisture, and challenging weather—unexpected abundance also teaches me that though life is a force only slightly within my control, it is also good. Growth that is meant to happen will do so, even under tough conditions—or maybe even because of those conditions.

Who knows what else will volunteer in my life—no thanks to any efforts of my own or so long after I worked my hands in the dirt that I have forgotten seeds once sown.

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