“Flowers have an expression of countenance as much as men or animals. Some seem to smile, some have a sad expression; some are pensive or diffident; others again are plain, honest and upright, like the broad faced sunflower and the hollyhock.” Henry Ward Beecher
Imagine a sea of bright smiling faces, row after row of honest, happy, golden flowers with cherub faces as big as dinner plates. An ocean of happiness and beauty, that is what greeted us quite unexpectedly on a winding country road. Squeezing in a brief visit with dear family while vacationing in Pennsylvania, my husband and I were given a rare and unexpected gift. His cousin Sharyn, who is more like a sister to us both, picked us up at our hotel with her 6 year old son, Jack, in tow. On the way to her home she mentioned that she had noticed for the first time, a beautiful field of sunflowers. As we approached I asked if we could stop, and she lovingly obliged.
I appreciated her willingness all the more because we were on a tight schedule and the rest of the family was waiting for us. What happen in the next few moments was sheer Goodness. All I can tell you is that for one clear moment there was nothing else in the world but us and those sunflowers. We all got out of the car and approached the field. It was not unlike a corn field in that the stalks towered over our heads and the flowers were planted as thick as London fog. To wander in might just mean never coming out. They seemed to go on forever.
We drank in the beauty and wonder of this unexpected gift. My husband put Jack on his shoulder so that he could greet the blooms face to face. We watched the bees at work and nature thriving in this field of happiness. I thought about Vincent Van Gogh painting sunflowers for the arrival of his friend Paul Gauguin to the famous “Yellow House” in France. They were meant to cheer and welcome his friend and fellow artist. Vincent was focused on the combination of yellow and blue at the time, and that is exactly what I was drinking in – bright and cheerful yellow sunflowers against a stunning blue sky. The scene took my breath away and left a deposit in my heart.
I had no idea if anyone else felt the same, as our conversation turned to other things after we returned to the car and drove on to our destination. We enjoyed our time together very much, and yet it was only after I had time to ponder our trip at home that I realized how affected I had been by that little gift. I kept thinking of it and feeling thankful for those moments.
Earlier this week I got word from Sharyn that her father had passed away, somewhat unexpectedly. Sadly, Sharyn just lost her mother in January, so the thought of her having to face another funeral and the loss of both parents was heartbreaking. She reminded me that she had let Jack pick the flowers for his grandmother’s casket. He had chosen pink roses – a fitting tribute to a beautiful woman. When she asked him what flowers he thought his grandfather should have, he paused and then said, “how about sunflowers!”
When I heard that, my heart skipped – Jack, too, had taken in the moment and it had stayed with him. It could certainly be said that his grandfather was larger than life and stood out in a crowd like a sunflower does. My husband and I leave tomorrow to join Sharyn and the family for the funeral. You can be sure that I will thank Jack for his choice because, I, for one, will smile and remember a happier time when I see those beautiful broad-faced flowers whose honest upright countenance will cheer and comfort me.
A “Good” Idea:
Take a moment to notice “the countenance of flowers.” See what impressions they leave with you or what people they remind you of. Give your heart some beauty this week.