The sunflower was growing tall in the late summer near its fencepost. It was a very proud sunflower with beautiful golden petals and lots of seeds. He basked in the dying summer sun and waited for the Autumn to come. But the sunflower was particularly vain and hated the thought of losing all his wonderful seeds.
On a lazy afternoon, a bird landed on the fencepost and approached the sunflower and asked it to share his seeds. “I need the seeds so I can eat them now and become strong to fly all the way south for the winter.” The Sunflower shook his head, “Certainly not. You can not have my seeds for such a selfish purpose. Go find another flower to steal seeds from.” The bird scowled and flew away.
The Sunflower had finally relaxed again when another creature came to talk to him. A fluffy red squirrel climbed up on the fencepost and asked the Sunflower to share its seeds. “I need the seeds so I can bury them so they can feed my family through the winter.” The sunflower shook his head, “Absolutely not. I will not give you my seeds so you can hide them away. Go find someone else to steal from.” Disappointed, the squirrel hurried away.
As the sun began to dip towards the earth, the Sunflower was visited by a pretty human girl with braids in her hair and a basket in her hands. The girl smiled at the sunflower and asked if she could harvest its seeds. “They are wonderfully tasty and I like to eat them as the summer ends.” The Sunflower was growing angry at the requests for his seeds and he replied, “Never! No one will take my beautiful seeds from me. I am a majestic Sunflower and I will not give my seeds up. Go away and harvest something else.” The girl felt sorry for the vain Sunflower and left him alone in his field.
The Sunflower was feeling very smug as he watched the sunset start to turn the sky pink and orange. He was startled when he was approached by another figure. She glided through the field as though her feed didn't touch the ground. She was dressed in a pearl colored gown and the sunset crowned her head of soft golden hair. Determined to keep his seeds, the Sunflower chose to ignore the woman approaching.
“I have heard that you are unwilling to share your seeds, Sunflower,” said the musical voice. The Sunflower was force to take notice of the beautiful woman. “My name is Persephone, and I have been watching you all day. I saw you tell the bird and the squirrel to leave you alone. I saw you refuse your seeds to the girl. How horrible that you are unwilling to share your harvest with the world. Your seeds are beautiful, yes, but if they aren’t harvested your flower will wither and die before winter comes.” The Sunflower stared in awe at the luminous woman, and knew that her presence was divine. Persephone continued, “If you let the bird take your seeds, he would have begun to fly south, and would have dropped your seeds into the soil. By next year, you would be reborn throughout the country side. The squirrel would have buried the seeds in the ground, and by next spring any that he didn’t eat would also sprout and grow to the same majesty as you have now. And know this, the humans are the ones that care for you and protect you and cultivate you. By refusing them, you will wither and die before the summer ends.”
The Sunflower was touched by what the Goddess was saying. “I need to sacrifice myself,” he said softly, “for I would rather be reborn than to simply fade away.”
“That is the order of things,” Persephone said as though she truly understood what the sacrifice meant. “All things must die so that they can be reborn. Provide your harvest to the creatures of the Earth and you will be rewarded.”
So the Sunflower allowed Persephone to harvest his plentiful seeds. There were enough to give some to the birds and the squirrels and to the humans. And the Sunflower learned a valuable lesson about giving and sacrificing. And as the Autumn season descended on the land, millions of grains and plants were willing to sacrifice themselves for the winter, knowing that they, too, would be born again in the spring.