Julia attended the celebration we had for International Bhikkhuni Day at the UU Church. When she saw one of the Abbey nuns, she handed her a huge sunflower, which the bhikkhuni gratefully accepted as we love sunflowers at the Abbey.

Later, Julia sent us this reflection, saying “I have no expectation other than for you to know how my interactions with you affect me and what I share and create as a result. This is a little story I wrote and I thought you might enjoy it… afterall, it was inspired by the entire weekend celebrating Buddhist nuns…

The other day I walked through a small area in my garden where I planted mammoth sunflowers. They created a magical space, towering twenty feet that I called, “The Sunflower Cathedral.”

The leaves were the size of the torso of Rianna, my tall five-year-old daughter. The flowers grew to about twenty inches across in all manner of expression; perfect circles, pursed, bent, twisted, erect and curved. It’s been a magnificent hodge-podge of growth.

The flowers are now heavy with seed. So weighty that they bow to the earth. They remind me of shower-heads and I love to stand underneath them watching the day-time honey bees gather the last pollen offerings, while in the evening bumblebees find refuge for slumber.

There was one flower that caught my attention. It had three brown discolored dots aligned like the constellation Orion. They reminded me of the three incense burn marks that a Buddhist nun I know has on her head as part of ordaining ritual of taking the bodhisattva vow. I had to give her that sunflower in celebration of International Bhikkuni Day, which honors Buddhist nuns worldwide.

As I was contemplating my intention, I was struck by the essence of this sunflower. As I looked deeply, I remembered the single seed I held in the palm of my hand four months ago. It was plump, cream colored and had a few grayish-black striations. I didn’t realize with any depth the enormous potential it held in so small a vessel. I gently placed it upon the earth and covered it with a blanket of richly amended soil. I’ve watered it regularly all this time and that, partnered with the sun, is all it required to grow to gargantuan proportion.

As I marveled at the large yellow petals drying but in perfect form, my gaze caught and understood this sunflower’s gift. Suddenly the hundreds if not thousands of new seeds plump and ready for drying danced before my eyes. It is in the ending of this plant’s life that its seeds will drop, be caught by birds or the wind and carried to new places. I, too, will gather and dry them and plant them anew next summer. That is the cycle we know. Yet there’s more…

What if you began to look at yourself as that perfect plump seed so full of potential? What if you planted yourself in situations that were certain to be nurturing, full of refreshment and sunshine? How would you grow? How open would you allow yourself to become in order to release such mammoth possibility? It’s there…just like that sunflower seed.

We are all seeds planted in this life to reach the greatest promise of ourselves. At the end of our time we will drop new seeds from our efforts in numbers that we can scarcely fathom. We needn’t worry or concern ourselves with such things. It is simply the course of our nature and the essence of life in general. The key is to trust the place in which you are planted and the many gardeners—friends, family, and strangers to tend to you well. The rest is simply your potential lying in wait…

To the sacredness that IS you, I bow.