On a bridge across the River Medway in Kent, the M2 (one of the UK’s busiest motorways) transports a steady stream of traffic to Dover and onwards, to the European continent. Just a few feet away from the thunderous roar of cars and juggernauts there grows a little sunflower.
She has only a small patch of soil, less than an inch in depth, to gather nutrients. This collection of dust and dirt has settled over time, swept there by the fierce wind that howls along the river valley, almost constantly.
As well as an incessant pounding from the wind, this little flower is also battered by rain and the torrents of flood water that drain from the road beside her, threatening to wash away the little soil she has. However, all to quickly the rain is gone and she is baked by a scorching sun that withers her leaves.
Yet, she still finds the strength to grow, without the rich ground that others have; without the support of her kind, or the shelter they provide for each other. Surrounded by the trash that people have discarded, she sits alone; her only company… the uninterested travellers who speed by, never even noticing that she is there.
This little sunflower represents the courage, strength, and willpower of so many of us. Those of us who have grown up without the basic requirements which so many others have; food, water, shelter, compassion. She is abused and bullied by the elements just as we experience the hatred and cruelty of other people. She lives her life alone, as do so many of us, without friends to turn to, or a loving family to nurture us. She goes unnoticed, despite her radiant beauty, in the same way that we are ignored by others, or treated as worthless.
The challenges she faces and the lack of almost every basic need is what defines the amazing abilities of this little one and her life. Your power to transcend abuse, neglect, and hurt can be the quality that inspires others to live their lives free from limitation, fear, and pain. By transforming your life into a celebration of your differences, and the trials you have overcome, you become a source of light to others; the security, nourishment, and hope for those who so desperately need it.
So, no matter of how much pain and darkness lies in your past… all you need do is find a way of living like that little sunflower; radiant and defiant and joyful in each moment she has in this remarkable, precious lifetime. And a way of achieving this can often be found in a simple change of perspective.