Thursday, March 10, 2022


I confess that sunflowers have never been my favorite flower.

Until now.

Without getting bogged down in the historical detail’s sunflowers have emerged as a symbol for what is occurring in the devastated country of Ukraine. Sunflowers had been planted decades ago on the site of a nuclear reactor by both Ukrainian and Russian defense ministers. They were planted to symbolize the commitment to never allowing a nuclear confrontation to occur.

Awe, that the planting could be recreated today.

Sunflowers traditionally also represent joy, optimism, peace, longevity, and devotion. Sunflowers are said to bring more joy to people than any other flower.

At the risk of being criticized for oversimplifying or minimizing I believe we could do well to plant more sunflowers. To cultivate the qualities of what they represent. To gift others with bouquets of sun-blossoms, especially those who may trouble us. Whenever we are tempted to lash out, we could give sunflowers instead.



And maybe a little bit of silliness would do us all a little good.

There is something universally powerful happening now as embodied within the Ukrainian invasion. It is deeply tragic and personal to those living directly in it. It is ghastly in terms of what is being visited upon these people. I could never convey it in words.

There is also a level of courage, bravery, heroism that is truly superhuman. As devious as the authoritarian occupation is, the Ukrainian response is indescribably and almost overwhelmingly brilliant in its bravery. Everyday citizens are taking up arms and literally risking everything to protect their homeland. It is a perfect outpicturing of the David and Goliath dynamic. As massive as is the Russian military it is no match to the spirit of these courageous people. We are seeing a profound playing out of good versus evil. It is personal, yet it is also archetypal and universal. It is a lesson for all who choose to pay attention and learn. There is a force deep inside of me that is responding in ways that are as unmistakable as they are surprising. No, shocking. A suppressed warmonger has come out of hiding. My pacifist has stepped behind my warrior. Every time I see a sobbing child, a grieving mother, a bombed out home I feel grief and also rage. The torment of the Ukrainians tears at my heart. My empathy and compassion expand with every devastating news report. And so does my anger.

The last thing I feel like doing is planting sunflowers.

Volodymyr Zelensky is proving himself to be a master gardener.

Zelensky’s bravery, strength, fortitude, leadership are at least for me stunning to behold. He grows not more weary but more wondrous with every attack. A former entertainer he matches the worst of human impulse with the best of the human response. He is fiery for sure. The fire is an intense flame of justice that lights the way for his people and his country. Another surprise for me personally is the level at which he deeply inspires me. I pray and I root for him and his people several times throughout each day.

And so sunflowers are rapidly becoming my favorite flower.

I will plant some in solidarity with the Ukrainian people. I will look for opportunities to give bouquets in celebration of all they represent. I will embrace the profound feelings this invasion is evoking in me. I will allow the pacifist and the warmonger to coexist in a broadening responsiveness. I will pray. And I will pray. And I will pray.

I close with a news report that quite literally took my breath away. This may well be a bit too raw for some of my dear readers. Read on if you dare.

The report was about a Ukrainian woman who approached a Russian soldier who was standing guard in one of the captured villages. The woman gave the solider a handful of sunflower seeds. She calmly told him to put the seeds in his pocket, so that when Ukrainian forces killed him, and he was buried, the flowers would come to bloom.

Writing this description fills me with as many contradicting feelings as when I first saw the report.

I do not wish death upon the Russian soldiers. I do not lose sight of their humanity as despicable as I find the behaviors.

I do not denigrate or heroize the Ukrainian woman.

Yet I do find the imagery stunning.

It made me want to put sunflower seeds in my pocket. It made me want to live in such a way that even after I die beauty will flower as my legacy. While I will leave instructions to be cremated the vision of being buried so that flowers will grow from my deterioration is appealing. I indeed want more joy, optimism, peace, longevity, and devotion to grow in my stead. I want to be a garden now, so that nourishing others is my lasting gift to the collective humanity.

I never see war as an intelligent solution. Neither do I see warring against war as being a viable path to peace.

And right now, this is where we are. We are still at a level of consciousness where maintaining peace, liberty, freedom for all must be fought for. Oh, that it were different.

I send waves of compassion and love to the Ukrainian people and to the Russian forces caught in this mire. I do not wish death on any of them.

I send them peace.

And as I pray, I plant a patch of sunflowers.

May this tragedy be ended before my flowers have a chance to grow.