Leaning Toward the Light

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I stood at the kitchen sink one cold morning a couple of weeks ago, washing out my coffee cup, when I focused on the tulip in the mini Mason jar on the window sill. It was decidedly leaning toward the sunshine sparkling our way.  Just the night before, its slender stem had rested upright in the jar’s water, its petals pulled close together and it hadn’t been leaning in any particular direction. Immediately, I grabbed my phone and googled this phenomenon.

I knew that tulips open and close in response to variable light throughout the day, (photonastic), but I guess I’d never realized they followed the sun, (heliotropic), even after they were cut. According to this article, tulips are both heliotropic and photonastic. They twist and stretch toward the light, continue to grow after they’re in a vase, which is why they tend to droop after a few days.

This little flower, whose days were numbered, was orienting itself toward the light: spending its time in the most life-giving activity possible. Tulips need light to survive, to thrive, to live the life that it was designed to live. Even after being cut! That’s what got me. It’s not sitting in the vase waiting to die, it’s living fully–moving, growing, twisting, and cheering everyone whose eyes alight on it. If tulips had hearts, I’d say it lived wholeheartedly.

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Of course, I made the connection to my own life and asked myself: in what ways am I following the light, leaning toward it, growing and moving with grace and beauty within the constraints of my particular “vase” or circumstances? Where are sources of light and life for me?

Believing in God’s love and care for me and the rest of humanity is probably at the top of my list. Reading poetry, books on spirituality, quality fiction and biographical stories of people who have overcome major obstacles to reach their goals is also important for me. Maintaining healthy relationships with loved ones, family and friends, is vital for all of us. Travel–seeing new places–is extremely uplifting and fills me with appreciation both for where I live and for the beauty of the earth. Finally, writing, singing, and making things–creative endeavors–bring me much joy and satisfaction. If I had no creative outlets, it would be like only seeing in black and white instead of full color. Creating keeps me sane.

Tulips will always thrill me with their stunning colors and elegant shapes, but now that I know that they are lovely little miracles following light, growing and twisting and stretching toward the sun, I will revere them and be ever grateful for their presence in the world, in my garden and on my window sill.

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