Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower Seeds


Every Spring I plant sunflower seeds. I wanted to plant some at the rectory so I asked both the pastor and the maintenance man for permission. It turns out my Pastor, Fr. Fred, was delighted because they are his favorite flower too!

I asked him why and he told me this very beautiful story.

As a child his Italian Grandfather, who didn’t speak the best of English, would grow the mammoth sunflowers and at the end of the Season he would keep the heads and seeds for next year. Noticing how much his grandson admired them he gave him a few seeds.

The young boy was so excited that he placed the seeds right on his windowsill so that he would have his own sunflowers!

To his surprise and sadness, when he woke up the next morning the seeds were still there.

So he went to bed again and each morning he woke up with excitement only to turn to disappointment as he approached the windowsill expectantly only to find that the seeds just would not grow.

Finally, one day, in a moment of frustration he grabbed the seeds and went to his Grandfather in tears and yelled at him, throwing the seeds at him… “Why did you trick me? Why did you give me seeds that wouldn’t grow.”

His Grandfather looked down at him with such tenderness and understood immediately what had happened.

“Fred, there’s something you need to know about seeds. In order for them to grow, they have to die.” Fred looked confused but intrigued.

You see, he gathered the seeds, placed them back in Fred’s hands and folding his hands around them.

He took one seed out of his hand, pushed it into the soil and buried it with his fingers.

Look for a seed to grow they need to be planted in good soil, the soil needs to be prepared, and watered, and after many days, weeks and sometimes months the seed will grow very mysteriously. It won’t grow on a windowsill, they have to be planted.

That day, Fred went home with a restored sense of hope and planted the seeds this time outside, in the soil, buried them… and waited with a much deeper sense of patient expectation.

To this day he still loves Sunflowers…

Sometimes in our lives we are dumbfounded or confused when things don’t work out the way we expect. We have that same childlike joy, but also a childish lack of understanding.

Life too may seem to disappoint our expectations. However, God has a greater plan that is revealed to us in the Paschal Mystery of Christ. It is only in the suffering and dying and burying that new life comes to us.

What is it in your life that needs to be planted? Is there some problem or difficulty that you have been approaching the wrong way? Is there something that is requiring a different approach?

Maybe the seed just needs to be buried for a little while.

There are sometimes in our life where all we can do is prepare the soil, plant the seed, bury it, water it, let the sun shine on it and wait for the mysterious way that God works.

If you find yourself disappointed by something in life, maybe you are just approaching it the wrong way. Your childlike expectation, wonder and joy are gifts from God. But maybe there is a childish demand, expectation, or simple lack of understanding that is preventing the miracle from happening.

Just as a seed needs to be planted and buried maybe your desires need to be planted and buried, only for a time, so that the Lord can work a mysterious hidden miracle and bring about something even more wonderful than you could have imagined.

God is trustworthy… he hasn’t given you seeds that won’t grow… your childlike wonder was meant to be fulfilled – just in a different way than you expected.

Let Him show you the mysterious way of planting and one day in a way that you didn’t expect you’ll come to love “Sunflowers” too.

About the Author Fr. Michael Denk

Fr. Michael was ordained into priesthood in the Diocese of Cleveland on May 12, 2007. He is dedicated to helping others encounter Christ through the celebration of the Eucharist, preaching, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, spiritual direction, and prayer.

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I'm Father Michael J. Denk, a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. I am a contributor of content to The Prodigal Father Productions, Inc., a non-profit corporation functioning in accord with the traditions and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The corporation and I are separate, it doesn't speak for me, the parish, or on behalf of the Diocese of Cleveland, and I do not speak for it.