The Lesson in a Sunflower

by Beverly Hutchinson McNeff

The sunflower is amazing. It is not only a beautiful flower, but it’s also a food source. Its seeds are nutritious and can be ground into flour and oil. Additionally, there are non-food uses such as in dye, medicinal products, and as treatments for the hair and skin. The history of the sunflower can be traced back to 3000 BC, as it was cultivated by the American Indian in what is present day Arizona and New Mexico. Yes, the sunflower is amazing!

But, the sunflower also has a message of truth to share with us: It always looks to the light. As it grows, the face of the flower constantly turns to the sun in the east and follows the sun throughout the day as it moves to the west. At sunset, it bows its head to the west, and during the night, it again turns to the east anticipating the dawn of light.

We need to be like the sunflower, and not only arise in the light, but anticipate that light will come in every moment or circumstance of seeming darkness that we may be facing. In lesson 75 from A Course in Miracles, it affirms…

The light has come. You are healed and you can heal. The light has come. You are saved and you can save. You are at peace, and you bring peace with you wherever you go. Darkness and turmoil and death have disappeared. The light has come.

Today we celebrate the happy ending to your long dream of disaster. There are no dark dreams now. The light has come. Today the time of light begins for you and everyone. It is a new era, in which a new world is born. The old one has left no trace upon it in its passing. Today we see a different world, because the light has come.

The Course repeatedly refocuses us on this truth, the light. It tells us that we have spent “long days and nights in celebrating death” (W-157), disaster, and pain, but at any moment we can awaken to the joy of life, for the light has come.

Even though the sunflower bows its head as the sun sets, it always knows to turn towards its life-giving answer to the east. Similarly, when the world shows us hate, attack, and acts of fear we can bow our thoughts and withdraw from the fray as we refocus on minds on the truth that the light, the answer we seek, has come.

How do we extend that light in our lives? Lesson 75 reminds us that to move from our dark thoughts to the light, we must move from fear to forgiveness. As we let forgiveness rest on the world of darkness, our light and understanding will grow stronger. For forgiveness entitles us to vision. It clears away the mistaken and dark thoughts we have about others (and ourselves) and lets us see only the extensions of love or the calls for love, and that our responsibility is to answer their call. We are to do this by allowing God’s love to work through us through the Holy Spirit’s guidance that will tell us: “what to do and where to go; to whom to speak and what to say to him, what thoughts to think, what words to give the world.” (W-275) When we focus on the truth, the lies of the ego’s dark thoughts grow weaker in our minds until we finally see the world of darkness and lies no more.

As we read in the Course,

“Forget not that the motivation for this course is the attainment and the keeping of the state of peace. Given this state the mind is quiet, and the condition in which God is remembered is attained.” (T-24.Intro.1)

We are told in the Course that our true state is our oneness with God. It is hard for us to wrap our minds around what that looks like or even means, but we can understand a feeling of peace and quiet. We can understand the joy and fulfillment we feel when we have reached out in service to another or been purposeful in our work. When we take a moment to breathe deeply and refocus our attention on the truth and not the distractions of the world…when we have offered a forgiving thought to another instead of holding on to our need to be right…when we have affirmed our purpose to make the peace of God our one goal, then we can remember and will remember God. And this world of pain and suffering will be no more, for the light will have come to our minds and peace will reign.

Let me share one final lesson from the sunflower. As the sunflower is growing, its ritual of arising each day in the east and setting each day in the west is unwavering. But, when it reaches maturity, it no longer makes that journey. It finally earns the right to stay facing the east and never again needs to follow the sun in hopes of getting every last morsel of light. It has finally become the embodiment of the light as it shines its beauty into the world. The same is true for us. As we finally see no value in the dark thoughts of fear and disaster, we won’t need to keep stoking those thoughts in our words or actions. We will see the uselessness of fear, attack, and separation for it costs us a world of healing that is available to us now.

To lead us from illusions to the truth, from darkness to light, and from fear to love, we use this lesson 75 from the Course as our guide as it affirms for us…

We do not want to see the ego’s shadow on the world today. We see the light, and in it we see Heaven’s reflection lie across the world.

Just like the sunflower, let us stay focused on the light, the truth of peace today. Let us not get drawn into the chaos of the world of darkness, fear, and attack. This world only has the power that we give it, so we focus on the light that the world of darkness may be no more.

Hallelujah, for the light has come!

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