At early dawn, like soldiers in their places stand
Those voiceless watchers at the morning’s gate.
And all day long that silent worship lasts,
And as their god moves grandly down the west,
And every stem a lengthening shadow casts
And watch till every lingering ray is gone,
Then slowly turn to greet another dawn.
~Edited poem by Albert Bigelow Paine
It would have taken no more than the first few words of Mary Oliver’s poem for me to want to join her in that field of sunflowers. I would go anywhere sunflowers grow, for surely the flowery “soldiers” as Paine calls them, as well as the flocks of wandering “beasties” that visit them, have adventurous tales to tell those who thirst for nature’s narratives. The voiceless worshippers waiting for weeks at dawn’s opening gate know well the demon and angel of drought and rain, the hungry adoration of visiting pollinators, the bearer of blessed light and sometimes searing heat, the sparkling orbs of cooling darkness. Even in their day’s of perishing they die not in silence nor in sadness for the rows and rows of seeds they bear guarantee new tales of other admirers, other dawns, and other sunsets. Dressed in simple garments of broad, green leaves and rising from coarse roots often sunk into poor soils, the sunflower, modest follower of the sun’s journey across the heavens, offers up a golden face covered in sticky, appetizing sugars. During the course of the day the bold sun worshiper blooms out large and tall while looking directly into the blazing sun, and with a radiant face poised against heaven’s blue the beauteous flower spreads a fanciful feast for birds, butterflies, and bees. Moreover, in that same sugary stickiness is a honeyed holiness, a potent, calming elixir for the human worshiper in the taxed, heat-beleaguered world beneath.
From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another. ~John 1:16