The rain was pouring in sheets, and lightning struck the ground from the sky. It was November in Illinois, storm season. A fresh gust of wind from the North picked up a sunflower seed that lay on the road and carried it to the edge of a field. The sunflower seed fell on the ground and stayed there through the winter. In the spring the farmer was planting corn and came across the first tender shoots. He rolled over them with his plow. "This no-good weed," he mumbled, "takes the soil away from good crops." Then he continued planting corn seeds. The sunflower seed survived and kept growing. One day the farmer's son was playing in the field and came across the young plant. He said, "What is this stupid weed doing here?" He struck at it with a stick and tore off three leaves. But the sunflower continued to grow. One day a butterfly was flying around in the cornfield and found the young plant. The sunflower asked the butterfly, "Why am I here? Everyone says I am no good and keeps trying to kill me. If I am no good, then why was I ever born?" The butterfly hovered gently over the delicate leaves and said, "You are a sunflower. You are in a corn field. The people here think you're no good because they are growing corn, and they think you're a weed. But a hundred yards from here, along the road, there are hundreds of sunflowers. They line the road and the drivers think they're very beautiful." The sunflower asked, "Why am I here, where nobody wants me? Did other sunflowers hate me?" The butterfly swept her wings around and said, "You are lucky to be here. The other sunflowers get plucked and sold as food. Here, you could grow up. Count your blessings." And the sunflower praised God and grew up to be as tall as the corn. When the farmer and his son saw it again, they marveled at it. "It must be a sturdy weed," the farmer said, "to have grown this tall under such conditions. We're not gonna touch it again." So they left it alone. When August came, the sunflower was in full bloom and following the sun as it rose in the morning and went down at night. A butterfly came again and said, "See? Now you're all grown. Do you like yourself now?" "I don't know," said the sunflower. "You are beautiful," said the butterfly to the sunflower. "You are beautiful," said the sunflower to the butterfly. And the butterfly pollinated the sunflower. The farmer's wife and daughter were walking in the field. The little girl said, "Look, it's a sunflower!" "Yes, dear," said her mother, "it's a sunflower. And it grew in a corn field even though your daddy tried to kill all the weeds. It must be a very special sunflower." "Let's pluck it for good luck," insisted the girl. "No dear," said her mother, "it must have been blessed to survive what it did. Kiss its leaves for good luck and then leave it alone." The girl kissed the sunflower and then went home. Next morning the sunflower said to the butterfly, "I don't want to get plucked. I did not survive this long this far away from home that I should allow myself to be killed." The butterfly said to the sunflower, "Everyone dies, but if you rid your heart of darkness then you can live on in another form." "I need to repay the farmer's family for having raised me," said the sunflower, "and then I want to help other plants." So the butterfly said, "OK, then let them have your seeds and your petals, while you let your soul fly away with me." The next night, while the mother was sleeping, the little girl went out into the field and plucked the sunflower. She put it in a vase. When next morning her mother found the sunflower in the little girl's room, she got angry. She said, "This plant survives storms, winter and your dad's plow, and you kill it. Are there not enough sunflowers along the road, that you had to kill something so precious?" The girl cried and became afraid. She said to her mother, "I will be forgiven, right? I am a good girl, right?" The mother looked at her and said, "You have to ask for forgiveness, and you have to pray." The girl came up to the sunflower and said, "I am sorry." Then she prayed that the sunflower live on. The farmer saw the sunflower in his daughter's room and said, "It is not by accident that this plant lived while we were trying to kill all the weeds. Perhaps it is trying to tell us something. I'll build a plot next to the corn fields where we'll be raising sunflowers." And he cracked the plant, he took out the seeds from it and put them in little bag to grow the next spring. As he was plucking out the seeds, from the sunflower emerged a beautiful butterfly. She flew away and found her friend. And together they went on spreading her blessings and knowledge to all the flowers that lived in the surrounding fields.