I’m back pondering the mysteries of nature and the amazing gifts God has given us in the great variety of flowers we can find all around. There is so much that this single sunflower is teaching me! (Thanks to David Trelawny-Ross for sharing the photos with us.)

Before it blossoms, the petals are curled up on itself and the dominant colour is the green supporting the flower. Gradually, the petals begin to unfurl, and this flower reaches out towards the sun; its French name (‘le tournesol’) literally means to turn towards the sun. When I was a child, Greek singer Nana Mouskouri sang a song called ‘Le Tournesol’ with the lyrics,

‘Le tournesol, le tournesol

N’a pas besoin d’une boussole,

Ni d’arc-en-ciel, ni d’arc-en-ciel,

Pour se tourner vers le soleil.’

At the time, I was too young to understand the song’s lyrics, but now I know that she was singing that the sunflower has no need of a compass or a rainbow to turn itself towards the sun; this is something built into the flower. God’s amazing creation has its own built-in homing device; as the petals unfold, they do so with the flower turning, stretching, reaching out towards the sunshine. In the same way, we can be like that flower: initially curled up tightly, marred by sin, crippled by life’s misfortunes, hiding ourselves away. It’s only as the light of the gospel touches our lives that we begin to uncurl, opening up in exactly the same way that the sunflower does.  ‘For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.’ (2 Cor 4:6)

Turning towards the sun (and towards the Son) enables us to blossom, to flourish, to become like the fully-opened sunflower, whose yellow petals (ray florets) and inner part (disk florets) now dominate, hiding the green that was previously the dominant colour. When God’s light shines in our hearts, the past is dealt with; we become new creations (2 Cor 5:17). We are set free from condemnation, sin, shame and guilt. (Rom 8:1) We can now live our lives unfurled, faces reflecting God’s glory: ‘whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.’ (2 Cor 3:16-18)