Gardening / Insights

A Helmet Full of Flowers

I spend many hours at my home computer, writing articles, and processing images. I’m not fussy about dress codes (I draw the line at bathrobes and bunny slippers) but I am fussy about how I use my time. I take breaks every 50 minutes or so. They help me stay focussed and efficient. I learned this amazing, restorative tip from Daniel Pink, in his book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. (A great listen on Audible, by the way).

These breaks — from taking a walk to tossing clothes into the washing machine — sometimes beget unexpected twists. Like the time I discovered a bumblebee perched atop a crocus flower, motionless. What happened next, inspired me to write a story and create a 2-minute nature film, A Sweet Treat for a Bumblebee.

Or the time I sauntered toward the kitchen in search of a cup of coffee and on the way, I paused by an end table and picked up a small book called, Meditations on Garden Themes: 51 Complete Devotions. Its tattered dust jacket, a dull salmon pink, mysteriously invited me inside.

Flipping through the hospital green pages, I stopped at A Helmet Full of Flowers. It was around Memorial Day, timely and right.

Meditations on Garden Themes was written by Josephine Robertson in 1959, the year Fidel Castro assumed power in Cuba, and the movie Gigi won an Academy Award for best picture. The 51 devotions, as they’re called, are observations relating to gardening. And each devotional story is followed by a short prayer.

I’d like to share it with you here…

A Helmet Full of Flowers

By Josephine Robertson

Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace. — Romans 14:19

Years ago, when I worked on a weekly newspaper, I noticed a soldier’s helmet holding a mass of bright petunias hanging from a window beside a busy crossing in the village. It seemed a curious thing. One week when news was scarce, I stopped to ask about it and was told this story.

The helmet belonged to a young soldier who had gone to war, was fatally wounded, and before he died, had asked that his helmet be sent back home to a friend who was about to enter the armed forces. This was done.

The second young soldier was not wounded, but contracted pneumonia and died just as the war ended. Weathered now and no longer warlike, the helmet, planted with flowers in memory of two home-town boys, hung over the crossing where all the village people walked.

What a simple but eloquent memorial that was! Here was a twentieth-century version of Micah’s dream of turning swords into plowshares and spears into pruninghooks. It proclaimed that these two young soldiers from the country town had died for the good, the simple, the beautiful things of the life they knew. It expressed hope that the armaments of war shall be turned to peaceful uses. It symbolized a prayer that is in the hearts of all the families of men who go to war.

Please, God, may the flowers of peace bloom where there is now war or threat of war. May good will replace hate, and understanding end suspicion. In the name of the Prince of Peace. Amen.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

I hope you enjoyed this post. And I hope you have a wonderful week. Drop me a comment when you get the chance.

Cheers and blessings,


P.S. Sign up for my monthly newsletter and get your free copy of my 4-page booklet of photography tips. You’ll feel recharged and inspired!

P.P.S. You’ll love this lively, 3-minute cartoon about Daniel Pink’s book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing which explains the importance of taking breaks. Yes, you heard me right.

1 Comment

  • Kathleen Pearson
    May 26, 2020 at 5:29 PM

    Well, that “When” book sounds like good sense :). I’m going to incorporate that break timing into my day so I don’t spend inordinate amounts of time at my computer without breaks. I have a habit of pushing myself when researching and don’t take time for breaks.
    Really enjoyed the flowering helmet. Sometimes I get to feeling low about the apparent disinterest of humans to cultivate their better natures. I get discouraged about the seemingly slow spiritual progress of humanity. :-/
    Thanks, Marion! (so glad Kodiakans are staying safe!)


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