“Keep your face always toward the sunshine and the shadow will fall behind you.” Often credited to well known American Poet Walt Whitman and to Helen Keller, this saying was and is still one of my favourite quotes. And it will always remind me of sunflowers.
“Helianthus”, the scientific name for sunflower comes from the Greek word “helios” meaning sun and “anthos” for flower. The sunflower got its name because of “heliotropism”. Heliotropism is essentially solar tracking or sun-tracking, a directional response to the sun. This characteristic of facing the sun is mostly observed in young sunflowers and stops once the flower starts to bloom or mature. Mature or full-grown sunflowers face east generally to attract more pollinators (bees like warm flowers) and to be productively warm. And did you know that sunflowers can even be red or purple? A general fact most people know is sunflowers are yellow; however, sunflowers come in different varieties which include shades of copper, brown, orange, white and as I had mentioned red and purple. And Vincent Van Gogh was not the only painter inspired by sunflowers although he was the most well known sunflower painter. Other painters include Diego Rivera (painting title: Muchacha Con Girasoles), Alfred Gockel (Giant Sunflower), and Paul Gauguin (Vincent Van Gogh Painting Sunflower).
Sunflowers are known for evoking a feeling of positivity, optimism and perking up our moods. They can reliably turn any frown into a smile for they are a happy sight to behold. But there is more to their nature than their visual allure. Sunflowers are decorative and functional. These multi-purpose plants give useful oil and healthy snacks and a life saver too. They can extract toxin such as lead, arsenic and uranium from contaminated soils.
Sunflowers are inspiring and motivating. They give lessons in maintaining an optimistic perspective. Lessons in always seeing the brighter side of life and knowing how to search for the light whenever there is darkness or negativity. These flowers are encouraging us to always face the sun, to always look for the light in every situation no matter how dark. And I believe in this process, and for us humans we can call this process “Spiritual Heliotropism”. Like the young sunflower, let us always keep sun-tracking and when we mature let’s remain facing eastward. For the best way to grow, to have wellness in mind, body and spirit is to have light and love. And the best source is the Sun of Righteousness none other than the Son of God – Jesus Christ! Let’s keep on walking on sunshine, let’s keep on Son-tracking! The Source is just a prayer away.
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” – John 8:12
“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” – Psalm 84:11