Sunflowers in the Storm

JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

6 August 2020

I have about 25 sunflower stalks lining the side of my driveway. They’ve bloomed more than 40 beautiful flowers, but that number grows each day. They’re a flamboyant bunch. Some of them are known to the botany community as Autumn Beauties – a yellow, orange, red, and purple combination that chromatically commands my ocular attention multiple times each day. Their fellow occupants are the typical sun-colored, attention-grabbing, bright yellow flowers you think of when you hear the word, sunflower. The entire group gives me feelings of joy and safety. I feel as if they’re my sentinels, guarding me from the darkness with their unfailing brightness.

We planted these eight-foot tall stalks back in March. They sat in tiny little plastic trays in the playroom as my children and I watched them sprout and reach for the sunlight. In early May, we transferred them to their outdoor home in a spot that provided them plenty of sun. We’ve regularly watered them. We’ve given them plant food at appropriate intervals. And we’ve even made up a song about the flowers popping. Every time we see a new bud about to spread open its petals, we sing to them. They’ve become a part of our family.

The Storm

Hurricane Isaias timidly passed through a few days ago. While we didn’t experience much rain, the wind went as high at 51mph. Living by the ocean has plenty of perks, but wind gusts are one of the disadvantages. While our power stayed on and our trees remained standing, three of our beautiful sunflower stalks bent and broke, succumbing to the heavy gusts. My almost-five-year-old saw the sadness in my face as I tried to tie the fallen stalks up and reinforce their broken parts. She looked at me and said, “But Mom, we have so many more beautiful flowers left. It’s going to be okay. Trust me.”

Her comment made me think about part of Jim Clatfelter’s translated Tao Te Ching. I looked it up that night when she went to bed.

Say your piece and then be still
Like nature in a storm
That rains and blows and ceases
And sees the sun reborn


Open to the inward view
You are at one with all existence
There’s nothing blocking up the way
Or putting up resistance


If you’re at home with nothingness
And simply trust what comes about
You’ll find that all is in its place
Without a question or a doubt


Tao Te Ching, Translated by Jim Clatfelter

My daughter was right: It’s all going to be okay. After the hurricane passed, the sun came out again. I did my best with the flowers’ rehabilitation. I bandaged up the broken parts and planted a support beam to hold them up. Now, it’s time to be still and see if they’re curable. There’s nothing blocking their way back to life. And there’s no question or doubt that all is in its place. It’s time to simply trust what comes about.

If the sentinels perish, I’ll accept their fate. We’ll be okay.

My daughter told me so.