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Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Sunflower Seeds

Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Four Short, Short Stories

Here are four short, short stories. All of them are true.

The License Plate

Frederick Buechner tells this story in his book Listening to Your Life. One day he sat in his car on the side of a road. He was “terribly depressed.” His young daughter was ill and he didn’t know what to do. He was also afraid of what might happen. A car came down the highway. Its license plate bore one word on it: TRUST. Buechner asks, “What do you call a moment like that? A kind of joke life plays on you? Or was it ‘the Word of God?’” For him, it was something of both.

He learned later that the owner of the car was a trust officer in a bank. The man happened

(Source: Pixabay: ctvgs)

to read Buechner’s account of this incident. He found out where Buechner lived and, one afternoon, showed up on his doorstep and handed him the license plate. Beuchner now has it propped up on a bookshelf in his home office. He writes, “It’s rusty around the edges and a little battered… But it is also a relic as holy as I have ever seen.”

The Closet of Forgiveness

The three siblings had been arguing and fighting with each other all day long. That night, about 2:00 in the morning, a terrible thunderstorm hit. Hearing an unusual noise coming from the children’s bedroom, their mother called out, “What’s going on in there?” A little voice answered, “We’re all in the closet forgiving each other.”

Rewriting an Obituary

Over 100 years ago, a man picked up the morning paper and, to his shock, saw his own obituary. Obviously the newspaper had made a terrible mistake. But the headline read, “Dynamite King Dies.” He was taken aback when the article described him as “a merchant of death.” Yes, he had invented dynamite. And yes, he had made a fortune. But is this what he wanted to be remembered for?

It was a “conversion moment” for the man. From that time on he decided to devote his time and money to works of peace and the betterment of humanity. Today he is not remembered as being a merchant of death, but as being the founder of the Nobel Peace Prize. His name: Alfred Nobel.

Old Patterns

(Source: Pixabay: sbmatherson)

This last story comes from Sister Chris Koellhoffer’s book, Longing for the Endless Immensity. Bobbie was a golden retriever who had a spacious backyard surrounded by a wire fence. There was a small wire gate in the fence. For years the dog sat patiently before the gate each day waiting for someone to open it and let him out for a walk.

One day the owner decided the fence was no longer needed for his yard. He spent the day removing it, but he saved the gate for another day. The next day the dog went to the gate and sat in front of it, waiting for someone to open it. Only when someone unlatched it, did the dog go outside the yard. Sister asks, “Do old patterns get in the way of seeing or imagining new possibilities?”


Our song is “Blessed Assurance” here performed by Third Day. The hymn was written in 1873 by two women: Phoebe Knapp who wrote the melody and her friend the blind hymn writer, Fanny Crosby, who wrote the lyrics.

Did any of the stories speak to your heart today?

What about the song?

Feel free to respond below.

13 Responses

  1. Good Morning Sr. Melannie!

    I like “The Closet of Forgiveness” story. Just had a miscommunication with my brother yesterday. I need to let it go. That was a good reminder to do so.

    God bless.


  2. “But it is also a relic as holy as I’ve ever seen.” Those words are perhaps some of the truest and holiest I’ve ever read. Everyone’s life story — and the stories within that story — is a pilgrimage to God. And while the signs, saints, and relics we encounter along the way may not be “church sanctioned,” they are nevertheless just as sacred. Thank you again, Sr. Melannie!

  3. Melannie, what a lovely surprise to see one of my own favorite stories appear in your blog! Thank you for the inclusion and for all your beautiful writing. I recognize the heart of a storyteller, and I’m most grateful.

  4. These stories are called “God Winks”. Another beautiful testimony and affirmation of how God is always present whether we know it or not.

  5. The story that hit me was the dog waiting for the gate to open. Many times we are not open to new possibilities because we are closed inside our own ideas.

  6. Dear Sr. Melanie
    I love seeing Sunflower Seeds on my email messages because you share God in such a down to earth and loving way… You just can’t make these stories up … they happen. He loves us plain and simple … and as sweetly as these stories touched my heart today as well as the music. I will be looking for my story all the day long…..Thank You

  7. I loved the stories. I can just see that loyal dog waiting at the gate,
    The music really moved me. I sang along with it. Thank you for
    Sunflower Seeds. Peace, Jane

  8. I love the story of Alfred Nobel. I am reminded of an obituary I once saw that was titled “avid dart player”. I remember thinking at the time that I would want to be remembered for something more than being a dart player. Nobel’s story prompted me to think about what title I would like to see on my own obituary. What three or four words would sum up my legacy?

  9. Thank you Sister Melanie for helping me remember God is always present and giving us hope. Each story had a special message and thought for me!

  10. Greetings Sister Melannie,
    While listening to the beautiful lyrics, written by a person without sight, what struck me, is how many word choices dealt with seeing. Fanny Crosby may not have been able to see the world around her, but she definitely possessed a vision of her heavenly home, as she proclaimed, “Watching and Waiting, Looking Above [for the] Light of Heaven.”
    As always, thanks for sharing. God bless you. Joanne

  11. All three stories came together to make sense of the past two weeks but I’m most drawn to the message of Rewriting an Obituary. This week two of my nearest & dearest friends passed away a week apart in June. One man,Peter, led a faith- filled life; the other never saw his way clear to God. I was with Peter & his wife on his last day & witnessed the interaction between God & him as he was making his way TO God. One man & his family found comfort & peace; the other family did the bare minimum of what is expected when someone dies. The stark contrast impressed upon me that how you live your life is how you will leave this life. You need to TRUST in the message of forgiveness & redemption; you need to look beyond the “gates” we erect in our own lives that keep us from fulfilling our mission, our purpose in life ……. then we will leave behind an obit that will serve to remind those we journeyed through life with on this planet so we can inspire others to seek & realize God’s plan for us.

  12. I loved the story about the kids in the closet, forgiving each other! Another reminder that religion/spirituality is caught rather than taught.

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Meet Sr. Melannie

Hi and welcome to my blog! I’m Sister Melannie, a Sister of Notre Dame residing in Chardon, Ohio, USA. I’ve been very lucky! I was raised in a loving family on a small farm in northeast Ohio. I also entered the SNDs right after high school. Over the years, my ministries have included high school and college teaching, novice director, congregational leadership, spiritual direction, retreat facilitating, and writing. I hope you enjoy “Sunflower Seeds” and will consider subscribing below. I’d love to have you in our “sunflower community.” Thank you!

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