Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Flowers (10/03/05)
TITLE: Sunflower Dreams
By Kathleen Fairman
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I’ve been dreaming of sunflowers, my mind’s eye watching as their bright golden petals turn worshipful faces to the sun, their source. At night, after the children are asleep, I creep quietly into the hollow, still roofless shell that will soon be a room where I can write undisturbed. There I do not see boards or nails or wires; I see sunflowers.
Their colors splash across imagined walls of cornflower blue. Their shoots circle a soon-to-be window like an orderly row of soldiers, struggling to march in formation but stretching their arms skyward, unable to abide the confines of rules that prohibit free expression. Their silhouettes appear in corners that, in reality, hold nothing but a few tools and cans of paint.
It has been weeks of this, these sunflower dreams. I did not know what they mean. But perhaps, today, I know.
I visit an old friend whom I have not seen in awhile. Our conversation turns to her role as an associate in a religious order. Although not a nun, she is spiritually linked to the sisters and spends a great deal of time with them. “Oh,” I sigh deeply, “that is something that I have always wanted to do … but I can’t.”
It is true. With a husband, children, two part time jobs, responsibilities at church … well, I just couldn’t consider it.
“Let me tell you a little bit about the order’s history,” my friend replies gently, perhaps sensing something of the longing in my voice. She tells me of a noble 200-year faith journey that began when the order’s founders sensed a call to educate poor children in the devastating aftermath of the French Revolutionary War. She tells of charity and missionary work worldwide. She tells of selfless acts of service that tragically resulted in the recent murder of one sister in a foreign country. I am mesmerized.
“And,” says my friend, smiling as she glances at my blouse, “you might be especially interested in the order’s symbol.” She explains that the order’s associates and postulants are called to turn to God, following His every movement, just as a flower follows the sun.
I look down at my clothes. I realize that I am wearing a blouse of deep black, splashed with sunflowers that fill it to overflowing with bright golden light. It is one of my favorites.
My friend reaches across her desk, smiling still. I watch as she carefully picks up a statue depicting the order’s symbol and holds it up so that I can see.
It is a sunflower.
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