Last evening I went out to pick the last of the day’s ripe blueberries, and as I was lingering in the garden enjoying the cool dusky air, I noticed the sunflowers. In the last week, there are four of them that have grown almost as tall as me and are starting to show signs of blossoming. Their heads are still tight in a bud, but you can tell they are eagerly waiting the day when they can show their petals to the sun and offer themselves to the world.
I just read an excerpt from the last chapter of Anatomy of a Rose, a book by Sharman Apt Russell, and it is about being cured by flowers. She points out that for a long time flowers have been used as medicine – from prescription drugs that contain some part of a flowering plant to folk medicine, flowers have healing properties. There are hundreds of ways to let plants, and specifically flowers, help our bodies heal: from evening primrose to sage to cornflower to prickly poppy, flowers have the power to cure what ails us.
But, most of us don’t tap into this power regularly. It’s easy to feel cut off from this sort of wildness and look to the newest advance in technology for the answer – this phenomenon is nothing new to write about here. We humans have a hard time, in our modern technologically focused world, allowing ourselves to take ownership of our place in nature. It’s easy to forget what the earth can offer us if we let her, from physical cures in the form of a tincture to emotional respite that might come from noticing the beauty in a sunflower for longer than a passing second. Sometimes we feel silly to be caught up in something like a sunflower – after all, there are important things to do, like answering emails or financial planning or organizing the hall closet. I think it’s because we don’t like to feel exposed. Reveling in the beauty of a sunflower reveals something about us that can feel dangerous to show to the world. It can expose our values and what truly matters to us, and that, though essential for a full life, is scary.
Russell writes about her feelings of embarrassment when spending time naked in some hot springs, and she’s certainly not alone in that. I would have a hard time, too, as she did, standing naked outside and drinking in the healing properties of nature, instead of being preoccupied with how my body looked or felt in its exposed state. It’s more comfortable to stay covered up, even when there’s no one else around. It’s easier to skim the surface than to go deep enough to let the healing of something like a flower do its work in us.
We may need to be cured by flowers.
We may need to strip naked and let the petals fall on our shoulders, down our bellies, against our thighs. We may need to lie naked in fields of wildflowers. We may need to walk naked through beauty. We may need to walk naked through color. We may need to walk naked through scent. We may need to walk naked through sex and death. We may need to feel beauty on our skin. We may need to walk the pollen path, among the flowers that are everywhere.
We may need to.