Sunflower Story: SUN-LIN AND THE BIRTH OF SUNFLOWERS

As promised in last Monday’s post, I’m back today with my own version of the “birth of sunflowers.” I hope you remembered and found time to write your own story. If so, provide a link to your story in the comments below. I’m excited to see what you came up with!


Sun-Lin and the Birth of Sunflowers

By Chandra Lynn

For my son who believes beauty should not require death.

Sun-Lin was a free spirit trapped in a body that was too fragile to let her fly free. Despite her name, she could not play in the sun like the other children. She could only watch from a veiled window. She was born with a rare disorder that made the direct sunlight intolerable. But oh, how she loved the sun and longed to be held by its rays and kissed by its warmth!

Every day Sun-Lin sat by the window, longing to be like the other children, squealing with delight as they romped through the grass, played stick ball or hide and seek. But Sun-Lin was always in good spirits because the children visited her frequently and related their exploits with such detail that she felt she was among them as they played.

One day Sun-Lin fell gravely ill. She was going to die. Nothing was going to change this. Just before sunrise (what she believed was) the morning of her death, Sun-Lin spoke bravely in a whisper to her doting parents. “Today, I say good-bye to you.” Her parents gasped! “I have one request,” she continued, “that we sit in the garden as the sun rises that I might finally bask in the sun.”

Her parents wrapped her carefully, placed on her lap a few colored pencils and a drawing pad, and wheeled her into the garden. The garden was breathtaking, filled with brilliant flowers of all sorts—zinnias, roses, hyacinth, lilacs, hibiscus, daisies, poppies, tulips, and so much more.

As Sun-Lin sat quietly, all the neighborhood children came to say goodbye. They prayed for her as only the little ones who know nothing of doubt and hopelessness can. They hugged her for as long as their attention allowed. Then, one by one, each child left but not before shedding tears. These tears fell on blades of grass and the tips of the flower petals and glistened in the sun.

Sun-Lin watched as the sun climbed high in the sky, and she thought perhaps she would try to draw the sun in all its shining glory. As she drew she thought about her life, how good it was, and how much everyone loved her. Before long, the sun began to descend and Sun-Lin’s heart leapt at the prospect of witnessing a sunrise and a sunset. Just after sunset, a little sad that this would be her last, she shed tears for the first time. Her tears flowed freely and gathered on blades of grass and flower petals and rested with those of the dear children who had visited her throughout the day. Night fell and she soon fell into a deep, restful sleep. Instead of moving her to her bed, Sun-Lin’s parents slept beside her in the garden.

When she awakened, strangely, instead of feeling weaker she felt stronger than she had felt in days.  As she wondered about this, she noticed the strangest thing at her feet: the sheet of paper that held her drawing had fallen to the ground, and near it a strange flower she had not seen in the garden, grew and opened before her eyes. “A sun flower!” she exclaimed. For the flower looked just like her drawing of the sun, with the additions of a thick, long stem and a large brown center filled with seeds.

Sun-Lin did not die that day or the next or even the next. For the brilliant drawing had captured the rays of the setting sun and danced in the night wind. As it danced about the flowers and grass, it collected Sun-Lin’s tears and the tears of the children who loved her. The magic of the sun, of innocence, and the sweetness of dreams gifted us what became known as the sunflower.

Sun-Lin lived a long life–for the Sun’s gift was beyond its beauty. Physicians soon discovered the healing powers of the sunflower, so Sun-Lin’s mind and body were nourished a long time on the petals and the seeds of the flower that looked liked the sun and followed it just as Sun-Lin had.

To this day, the tall and regal sunflower follows the sun with deep devotion. In gratitude it provides nutrition and healing for all the little ones who love to dance and play in the sun.

The Sunflower Myth

The heart that has truly loved never forgets,
But as truly loves on to the close;
As the sunflower turns on her god when he sets
The same look that she turned when he rose. –Sir Thomas Moore

I read several versions of “the sunflower myth” a few days ago, and I can’t say any of them are pleasing. The story generally follows the plot below:

Clytie, was a water nymph. She was the daughter of the Titans, Oceanus and Tethys. She was the lover of the sun god Helios, who eventually deserted her to pursue Leucothea, the daughter of Orchamus. Clytie was enraged and told Orchamus about the love affair. He sentenced his daughter to death by burying her alive. Clytie thought that the death of Leucothea would make Helios return to her, but it only made him think less of her. In the end, Clytie lay naked for nine days on the rocks, gazing at the sun when he rose and as  he passed through his daily course to his setting. Her tears and the chilly morning dew were her only food. On the ninth day, her limbs rooted to the ground, and she was transformed into a flower, the heliotrope or turnsole [sunflower], which turns towards the direction of the sun.  –from Greek Mythology

Like the Disney princess stories, which either vilify or victimize women, this story bothers me for many reasons: the rivalry between women over a “man;” an overprotective and abusive father; a daughter’s punishment [in this case, murder] for disobedience(?); the scorn of a former lover.

The contradiction between the cheerfulness of the sunflower and the misery and rejection that birthed it in this story is troubling, to say the least. What bothers me most, though, is the romanticization of pain that sends the message that there is beauty in mutilating oneself or pining away for love.

I’ll spare you the full rant and focus on the sunflower’s devotion to the sun as described in the lines (above) from Moore’s poem–without the backstory.

Note on the image: The photo sunflower above comes from a “suburban sunflower field” growing inside my favorite grocery store (also known as potted sunflowers for sale). 🙂 I captured the sunny blossoms last summer. How could I resist their happy greeting? I isolated the central flower and post-processed it using 3 different apps. The original image is below.

Until tomorrow…

The Sunflowers Told Me…

We had a slight disruption in our sunflower posts due to end-of-the-semester busyness and exhaustion.  I crashed seconds after arriving home last night.  We’ll make up for it by adding a “sunflower” day next week.  Actually, I have enough sunflower material to blog about them for a month! No worries. I won’t.

Five minutes after entering my office yesterday (for no obvious reason) I ended up in a weird head space that made it difficult to concentrate on anything that looked and felt like work. I took a moment with my sunflower wall, carefully studying each image and thinking fondly about how each came to me.

The sunflowers, filled with reminders to be good and kind to myself, gave me permission to slow down the crazy pace at which I’d been working for several weeks straight and pause, even if just for a moment.

My sunflower wall grew tremendously as a result of International Women’s Day 2018. My Love Notes friends filled my mailbox with sunflower after sunflower, and though I’ll share the other yellow flowers I received eventually, today, we walk through a sunflower field together. [Click an image for a closer look].

 

The postcards came from Love Noters–Christine, Eileen, Connie, Arielle, Litsa, Peg, and Gina. I received two more that aren’t pictured here; they’re “earmarked” for two other posts.

I “installed” the sunflower wall in front of my primary “work station” one afternoon when I was “fed up” with the dreariness of winter. I needed the sun! Thanks to my Love Notes friends, the sun shines even brighter in my office.

I hope your weekend is filled with light, love, and lots of pauses.

Because I Love Sunflowers…

Love Notes participants are a creative bunch, and I always feel the love when someone crafts a card especially for me. That is exactly what Lori K did for the Love Notes 21, Prompt 2. After reading about my ❤ for sunflowers, she created a gorgeous autumn-themed sunflower card for me. Double love!

“Autumn Sunflower,” Card made by Lori K.

Lori sent the card with a long, newsy letter that ended with her response to the prompt, “Your history….”

Your history is what makes you who you are. The things you have gone through, both the good and the bad, have taught you how to be the caring and loving person you are. Enjoy each day and make more of your unique history.

Can we talk about how much this sunflower is saving my sanity?

The last five or six weeks have been challenging for my family. My dad has been in and out of the hospital. Worrying, waiting for news, and trying to figure out what’s going on has been emotionally taxing. He’s back in the hospital today, so this sunflower is a beautiful and much needed reminder to turn my face heavenward and trust that God’s “got this.”

Sunflowers normally find a place on the walls of my home and work offices, but I placed this one in my planner because I need to see it each time I open the planner throughout week.

Over the years, my friends–“in real life” and pen friends–have given me many, many sunflower notecards, postcards, drawings, watercolors, paintings, and photos. I’m grateful for the sunflowers, the beautiful messages all around me, prompting me to dwell in the light and stand tall and strong in the face of adversity.

Thank you, Lori. Your sunflower came at the right moment!

Sunny Inspiration: Look Up!

My neighbor’s sunflowers came in beautifully and I made a few trips to capture them in their various stages. I managed to capture dozens of pics–one is featured in Finding Love Notes, Naturally, posted a couple of weeks ago.

I decided to work with a couple of the photos yesterday–one featuring a sunflower with its “face” turned upward and the other a “downcast” flower leaning away from another that is still full of life. The photos were on my mind and I wanted to combine them with words that speak their language.

The blooms are visual reminders that when the “stuff” of life is coming at us full force, all we have to do is stand firm, “face the Sun,” and rest in the embrace of the One who is always near.

“Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” Sunflower PhotoArt by Me!

Sometimes, it’s necessary to face our problems “head on,” stare them down, and conquer them. At other times–when things are out of our control and bigger than we could ever imagine–we have to turn away from our struggles and focus our attention on the One who handles the insurmountable and scary situations for us. Otherwise, the worry and stress can affect our health.

“God Is Near the Broken-Hearted,” Sunflowers PhotoArt by Me!

We feel alone in such situations–it seems no one understands, can provide the comfort we need or help us manage our problems. It is imperative to know that we are not alone, that God is near, cradling us in His protective arms, and carrying us through the difficulties.

When we train our focus heavenward, our problems are placed in proper perspective, and we learn to trust the “Lover of our souls” to manage all our concerns so we can go on living and loving without distress.

I prefer to see sunflowers with a sunny disposition, but the sunflower in the second photo communicated so profoundly and beautifully the message of Psalm 34:18 that I had to capture it–even with the photo-bombing bee. The bee might seem a distraction, an annoyance even, but without bees there would be no flowers.

Wishing you a week filled with sunshine and good things…

My Bouquet of Yellow Postcards

My Yellow Postcard Bouquet

I cannot let March end without sharing the big yellow bouquet of postcards I received in honor of International Women’s Day/Women’s History Month.  With Beckra’s (ongoing) permission, I hosted her “Yellow Flowers for International Women’s Day” swap on swap-bot for the fifth time.  I felt compelled to share the yellow blessing with the Love Notes community and many were excited to participate.  So, in addition to the swap-bot participants and the women in my circle of family and friends, I also sent dozens of postcards to Love Notes participants.  In return, my mailbox was filled with yellow flowers all month long.

The first postcards came from my two swap-bot partners, Jan and Valerie [Click image for a closer look].

My penfriend Beckra sent a bright closeup of a yellow flower she photographed.  She hasn’t participated in the swaps lately, but she always sends me a card for IWD.

“Happy International Women’s Day.” Photograph by R.R., Beckra

Then, the cards from my Love Notes pals made their way to my P.O. Box from various parts of the USA and the world.

Christine B’s was the first to arrived with an IWD greeting and a sweet message–“You are an outstanding woman and I am glad we connected.”

“Happy, Happy International Women’s Day.” Photographer, Christine B.

After reading the Karle’s Wings post, Christine sent a second postcard, orchids, in memory of my sister, Karlette.  Isn’t she the best?  There’s a special heart hidden in the photo. Can you see it?

“Orchid for Karlette.” Photograph by Christine B.

I usually don’t mind postal markings on postcards.  I “minded” this time. :-/

Lorelei sent a coloring card with a couple of spots colored in yellow:

Illustration by Johanna Basford, from Secret Garden 20 Postcards

Many sent photo postcards.  Some, like  Beckra’s and Christine’s, featured the photography of the senders [Click image for a closer look].

Ellen even used a stamp featuring my favorite flower:

Sunflower Postage

Some sent “store-bought” postcards: [Click image for a closer look].

Many included inspiring messages:

“Life is Beautiful.” From Jackie W.

She is clothed in strength and dignity,and she laughs without fear of the future.  –Proverbs 31:25

We get so worried about being “pretty.” Let’s be pretty kind, pretty funny, pretty smart, pretty strong. –Britt Nicole

“Waterlily.” From Eileen of Germany

Little yellow flowers
Dancing with the breeze
Little yellow flowers
Huddled round the trees
Little yellow flowers
Seemed to know my pain
Little yellow flowers
in my mem’ry will remain.  –Valerie Dohren

Yellow Jessamine, State Flower of South Carolina with an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, State Butterfly of South Carolina.  From Connie of S.C.

Some women fear the fire; some women simply become it.  –R.H. Sin

“Tree Cotton Plant.” From Sheila L.

May we continue to make progress on all issues that affect women.

Some featured the art of the senders with inspirational reminders [Click an image for a closer look].

Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.  –Mother Teresa [Cricket]

Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.  –Unknown [Lori W.]

Debra D. sent an elegant “thank you” for my “hosting” the swap.

“Thanks,” Heartmade by Debra D. of Virginia

Martha S., whose work has been featured on Pics and Posts before, sent one of her gorgeous artistic creations with a poem (the scan does little justice).

“Cherry Blossom Season.” Artist Martha S.

An artist to me
is one
of those
kind of prophets
of our community.
Their antennae,
or their sense
of what’s
happening,
is so vital
and so pure
that we always
need to listen
to them. –Fiach Mac Conghail

And finally, Lori-Anne C. of Canada,  sent a handmade, sunflower-shaped postcard that made me squeal on a day when I really, really needed to be reminded to “face the sun.”

“Sunflower Love.” Artist Lori C.

The beautifully written message on the back of the postcard was just what I needed to hear the day it arrived.

Isn’t that an “amazing” message?

You are amazing and strong and brave and wonderful!

When life tries to convince you otherwise, be sure to carry this heartfelt message with you.

Thanks, ladies, for all the postcard love!  Until next time…Hugs!