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The Strength of a Seed

The Strength of a Seed

The sunflowers have taken over. 


It starts out endearing with a few stalks popping up along the edges of the garden. At first we’re never sure if they’re sunflowers or zinnias or any other assortment of volunteer plant. But as we start our garden with tiny seeds and small plants, (almost) any form of growth is cause for celebration.


A few years ago we intentionally planted sunflowers along the edge of our garden creating a beautiful boundary of living plants. Shades of yellow, orange, and red towered over the vegetables and drew your eye as soon as you turned toward the garden. The next year we were delighted to see volunteer sunflowers pop up. We didn’t plant a single flower that year but watched as the flowers grew in the same row we had planted the summer before. Plus the occasional sunflower scattered across the garden thanks to the birds and wind spreading the seeds. 


This year, however, the sunflowers have drifted further and further from that initial boundary line. They are still there, but also in the middle of our tomatoes and on the path beside the squash. And moving further into the grass. I can’t even walk through one of the paths without pushing the stalks and ducking my head from the leaves and blooms. 


The sunflowers have taken over. 


The other night after watering, weeding, and maneuvering between plants, I sat on the wooden bench facing the garden. The birds chirped, a light wind rustled my clothes, and the smell of dirt and plants filled the air. I looked at the pepper plant’s white flowers anticipating the fruit that will come. I saw all the weeds that still needed to be removed. I gave thanks for the dirt under my fingernails. And I looked up to see a sunflower in full bloom. 


Leaning towards the light.


And it’s not alone, there are a number of flowers already in bloom. All open to the sun’s warmth on their face. Together, the plants strengthen and protect one another. They are waiting together, reaching for the sun. The red, yellow, and orange colors reveal such beauty, offering seeds and new life with every touch of the wind. The light shining down touches them all. 


I reach my face upwards, too. And feel the warmth of the setting sun. I savor this light, this growth, this moment to feel the warmth. 


And know that the light continues to fall on me too. 


Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. You can read more at her website: or follow her work on Facebook:   


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