Sun Tracking

A Look at the Healthy Rhythms of Sunflowers

In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth. Psalm 19

Sunflowers are heliotropic or sun trackers, which means that they turn their flowers to follow the movement of the sun across the sky east to west, and then turn at night to face the east, ready again for the morning sun.

These golden beauties rely on daily circadian rhythms to convert the sun’s energy into what they need to grow strong enough to support a large flower head. The flower head then permanently faces east and becomes warm and attractive to pollinators such as bees and insects, which results in seed production. The dazzling flower head is big and vibrant with inviting nectar ensuring pollination, fertilization and seed development, allowing for new flowers every year.

The organic nature of the sunflower is one of constant interaction with the sun above, the elements underground, and the environment in which it stands.  This is a good model for us as spiritual human beings dependent on healthy rhythms in our attunement with God, others, and the context we live in.

We practice our faith with rhythmic intentionality, putting ourselves in the pathway of God’s presence, keeping company with Jesus, and discerning the voice of the Spirit in our everyday encounters and experiences.  In our deep rootedness, we gain strength aligning with the movements of the Spirit, growing in strength and attractive character qualities. At the end of the day, we can be grateful for the good fruit produced, and be restored with forgiveness and rest.

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
    and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
    and his glory appears over you.
Isaiah 60:1

The people of God are encouraged to be reflectors of the light of the glory of the Lord which has risen and shines over them. Our mission here, very much like the sunflower, is to stand strong in our world, to constantly move our face toward the light and warmth of the presence of God, and to draw others into the beauty, the light, and wonder of life the Creator God has provided.

REFLECT. Consider how the sunflower is in constant interplay with the sun, the resources and sustenance above and below ground, the interaction and cooperation with bees for reproduction, and the provision of nectar, fruit and oil. Reflect on your own spirituality and the interaction with God, others, and the context in which you live. Make some notes and think through this model of spiritual transformation for yourself.

Ask yourself—How organic or natural are these interactions in my daily life—Organic meaning a relation between elements that fit together harmoniously as necessary parts of a whole. What comes up as un-natural, not quite attuned to God and in harmony with others in the way you practice your faith? Would you say that the context of your faith lived out is inviting, warm, sustaining, making a difference in the world around you?

PRACTICE. Set aside a day to be a sun tracker. As Psalm 19 encourages: Pitch a tent for the sun and watch it’s rising from the end of the heavens and its circuit to the end of them. Plan the day by perhaps going camping or doing an outdoor retreat. Start with getting up early for sunrise and sit in quiet wonder. Let the day start with the excitement of a bridegroom about to meet his bride, or a runner starting a 5k. At different points in the day: mid-morning hike, picnic lunch at noon, or an afternoon nap, take time to notice where you see God in your ordinary day. “Day to day, the sky, pours out speech, without words.” Then find a place to watch the sunset and see how the “heavens declare the glory of God.” Again no words necessary.

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