Lessons from a Sunflower

Sunflowers, one of my favorites, are a mark of the end of summer. Time for vacations to end. Life returns to more regular routines. Schools and colleges open for another year of learning, and it feels as if we all get back to schedules and agendas. Ugh! The exploration of new places and new experiences appear to have ended. Serious ‘work’ is back upon us. Can’t we just have an endless summer, when we eat too much ice cream and forget to put on sun-tan lotion? But for everything there is a season; haven’t we learned that?

I brought in from our garden a fallen stem heavily laden with sunflowers and placed it in a vase. Each day we marveled as a circular row of disc florets (the seed part) would push forth, all at the same time, stigma crowned with pollen. It looked bejeweled. For every thing there is a season and a time. But the orderly fashion of how it offered itself for pollination, and thus the possibility of bringing forth fruit (seeds, in this case) is amazing to observe. Each day a new row would offer its pollen together without fail.

Even more fascinating is seeing the bees when they discover the stigma full of golden powder, and watching as they walk literally in circles touching each one. Through their touch, the wind from their wings, and the motion of their legs, they help the flower produce its fruit.

Contemplating this steady process of the sunflower’s disc florets, I wondered how this reflects our own

lives, more specifically our spiritual practices. Of course, it reflects the good work and routine brought back to us in this season. Each day is marked with a new row of golden stigma. Yet, it also bespeaks of how each day is an opportunity to engage with life, to offer one’s self and all that we have (golden pollen, anyone?) to all the possibilities.

Moreover, it means interaction, just as the flower will not produce if the bee doesn’t touch it; so too, the fruits of our labors are brought forth by involvement with others. And when you consider this also as a metaphor for our worship life: the regular, daily offering of ourselves is a spiritual practice, followed by outreach and service, which are the ways we demonstrate how God has pollinated our hearts.

As we enter into the season of Autumn and look forward to all the opportunities that our congregation puts forth for pollination, my hope is that in you (as well as in many others) the seeds of inspiration and renewal will grow!

Peace ~

Pastor Susan

About Susan Kramer-Mills

Susan Kramer-Mills' journey as a pastor has led her to a variety of places. Before attending McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago she was a Volunteer-in-Mission for two years West Berlin, Germany. After returning to the United States and graduating from seminary, she returned with her husband Hartmut to Germany. From 1990 to 1992 she was campus chaplain and registrar at Naumburg Seminary in former East Germany. With the closing of the seminary she assumed the pastorate for the yoked congregations of Stoessen, Goerschen and Rathewitz in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. At the same time she taught Religious Instruction at two public elementary schools until 1998. During this time she was assigned six additional congregations to the original three. In 1998, she received a call as Associate Pastor to Trinity Presbyterian Church in East Brunswick, New Jersey. She served in that position until 2000, when she and her husband accepted a call as co-pastors to First Reformed Church in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Since April 1, 2004, Rev. Kramer-Mills has also been working part-time as Classis Minister to the Classis of New Brunswick.
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