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Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Sunflower Seeds

Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Sitting in the Bleachers with Cody

Here I am on a Sunday afternoon sitting in the bleachers next to Cody, my grandnephew, a sixth grader. We are watching his fifth grade brother, Drew, play basketball.

The score was 2-2 after the first quarter and I had begun to think this might be a nice, close, interesting game for a change. But the other team got hot, and here it is, in the middle of the third quarter, and we’re down 20-4. But both teams are playing their little hearts out, as indicated by their red faces, sweaty hair, and the steady squeak-squeak-squeak of their sneakers. At any given time one of boys is lying flat on the floor while others are taking shots that don’t go even near the basket or (on rare occasions) shots that are all net. And it’s wonderful to watch. Boring at times, yes, but somehow still wonderful. (I learned long ago that boring and wonderful are not mutually exclusive.)

Kids playing their little hearts out.
Kids playing their little hearts out while their sneakers go squeak, squeak, squeak.

And I’m surprised and delighted to have Cody all to myself right now which seldom happens at family get-together’s. Too many people. But here we are perched upon the top row of the small set of portable bleachers talking. His Dad (my nephew) is the assistant coach for Drew’s team so he’s by the bench doing what all good coaches do: yelling encouraging words to his team. Cody’s Mom is on my right, chatting with me and with other friends in the bleachers.

Ring Pop candy
Ring Pop candy

Cody is contentedly sucking on his blue Ring Pop candy that looks suspiciously to me like one giant pacifier. I ask him how school’s going. “Good,” he says. I had expected an “Okay” so a good is very good And we talk about the bridge that he and a classmate spent hours building out of balsa wood and entered into a science fair and won an award for. The bridge supported 32 pounds of sand before it broke. 32 pounds! Taking the candy out of his mouth, Cody says, “I was really surprised it held that much. I would have predicted half that weight.” And I marvel how he’s already beginning to sound a little like an engineer.

Then we’re on to NASCAR and when I ask him who his favorite driver is, he says without even having to think about

NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne.
NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne.

it: Kasey Kahne and he spells out the whole name for me (K-A-S-E-Y  K-A-H-N-E) because he’s suspecting I never heard of the guy (which is right) and that I’m thinking it’s Casey Cane or Kasey Kane (which is right again.) And then we’re talking about the chickens his family has

A group of smart chickens.

which he and Drew are in charge of. And he tells me they collect about a dozen eggs every day in the summer but only 2 or so in the winter. I say, “Chickens take it easy during the winter.” He nods. And I add, “Like we humans would do too—if we were as smart as chickens!” And he laughs and agrees with an enthusiastic “YEAH!”

We move from smart chickens to the Cleveland Cavaliers and mull over their chances for an NBA title this year. And we both express a little hope but (being from Cleveland where no sports team has won a title since 1948) we have already begun to steel ourselves for yet another disappointing and heart-wrenching season.

Cody and his brother Drew.

That’s how the dialogue goes during the duration of the game—punctuated by silences as we watch the game and cheer the rare baskets our team makes. It’s all small talk, I know, but somehow the small talk connects the two of us in a good way—this 12-year-old boy and this 70-year-old “old lady” who are also connected genetically because his grandpa was my brother John. Later that evening as I recall some of the blessings of this day, my time sitting in the bleachers with Cody is right up there at the top of the list. And I find myself thanking God for Cody and the personable and good kid he’s turned out to be. I know I see my brother in him—the solid physique, the height, the ready smile. Cody was upbeat in the bleachers even though earlier in the day his basketball team had lost about 25-7. “But I made two out of my three foul shots,” he said, not boasting, just stating a simple and comforting fact.

Little moments like sitting in the bleachers with Cody are ordinary. Very ordinary. But they are sacred too. Very sacred. For I believe that the good and the beautiful and the true are always with us—often lying just beneath the surface of the everyday, transforming the ordinary into the sacred, the common into the holy, the quotidian into the blessed—and leading us to be immeasurably grateful to God for the one precious human life we have been given. Amen.


What “little moments” in ordinary life do you find sacred?

Does anything make you especially grateful for the one precious human life you have been given?





19 Responses

  1. Hi Sr. Melannie

    Sending you and your classmates my very best wishes and congratulations on your 50th Jubilee! God is pleased!

    Thank you again for Sunflower Seeds!

    I loved this story of sitting in the bleachers with Cody. The ordinary contains such kernels of truth that everything becomes sacred.
    Having a meal with someone or even by myself shows the the sacredness of life-giving sustenance and God’s providential care.
    I am grateful for my life and strive to offer something of “value” to those I meet, just by listening to their needs or concerns.

    Have a wonderful week!

    Nancy Frederico

  2. Sister Melanie-Loved your story! How wonderful that your nephew obviously enjoys your company. It reminded me of similar sports moments with my kids. And I still discuss the usually dismal Cleveland sports scene with my adult children but I must set the record straight:1964 was actually the last year for a Cleveland sports championship as the Browns were NFL champions.
    Thanks for making my Monday mornings brighter!

    1. Dear Mary Beth, Thank you for setting the record straight. Yes, the Cleveland Browns won the national championship in 1964. I saw part of the replay of that game on the 50th anniversary–so I should have known better! Yes, it wasn’t called the “Super Bowl” yet, but it WAS the national football championship. Go Browns! (And tonight: Go Buckeyes!) I’m glad this blog evoked memories of your own sacred moments with your kids! Sr. Melannie

  3. I was just thinking the same thing! My Grandson lives in London and he got a cell phone for Christmas. His text ” hi gramma” means the world to me. I told my daughter….his gift was my gift too! Enjoy your reflections so much…..I am grateful for you.

  4. I have always enjoyed children – did 27 years of daycare in my home – and enjoy visits with my grandchildren. My son and daughter-in-law had the chance to go to the Sugar Bowl and watch Ohio State win and we had their almost 8 year old son and 5 year old daughter. Enjoyed their energy and marveled at their thought processes. Too often adults don’t pay attention to what children are thinking. Glad you had the chance to visit with Cody.

  5. Yesterday was the second day of life for our new Grandson, Wyatt, My Husband and I visited them in the hospital. He is in the NICU because he had trouble breathing after birth. Seeing him rest on his Mommy’s chest was very ordinary but also very awesome. I thank God for the gift of new life in our Family!

  6. Good morning, Sister Melannie,

    One of the marvels of children is they remind us to be in the present. Like Dorothy and her husband, Ed and I have recently welcomed granddaughter number four into our family on Dec. 28th. Alaina Claire’s big sisters, ages 5 and 8, stayed with us for a few days while Mommy was in the hospital.

    It is a simple Joy to connect with our granddaughters over many days, doing ordinary things like grocery shopping and taking a walk. Being part of the special moments, too, as they prepare their cards and gifts for Mommy and Baby are glimpses at mystery, innocence, and God’s wonder. These are the memories that I told Katie and Emily I would tuck in my “Forever Chest.”

    Thank you, Sister. God bless you. Joanne Bennardo

  7. I totally agree that moments of grace are right here with us (if we recognize them) and, spending a special ( or ordinary) time one-on-one with someone is very sacred. I don’t regret spending the time or money to do something individually with my kids or grandson, but wish I would have done more. I look forward to spending love on friends, family, and even an unexpected stranger.
    My great challenge is not to take my hubby for granted and to recognize those moments of grace hidden in familiarity and routine.

  8. Just had a wonderful conversation with my niece…and I stayed in the
    moment…not rushing through this precious time…what a Blessing……

  9. A wonderful read, Sr. Melannie! I, too, had a very precious moment this weekend with my granddaughter (3 1/2) while painting her toenails. I wish it could have lasted longer because she actually opened up and talked to me. How mature she seemed at this young age. I treasure the brief moment! Thank you for taking the time to write Sunflower Seeds.

  10. What a wonderful reflection as we enter into “ordinary time”. That’s what most of our moments are, “ordinary” but how important to be really present to each moment.

  11. I love the story about you and Cody. For me those times with my niece and nephews are only in the summer and at Christmas when I visit. But how I treasure them. Christmastime especially is a time for family and being able to be there long enough that those times can happen—baking & decorating Mom’s birthday cake with my niece—she’s 11 and can nearly do all of it, while I do the cleanup so that we can play a game while we’re waiting for the cake to cool instead of doing dishes; games with my family & and Mom’s Chex Mix that is better than the store bought kind; walks outside or in the park—a sibling & “next generation” time now that my parents are older, seeing in the New Year with my parents. All are treasured times and gifts from God.

  12. Thank you sister Melanie for this blog on everyday blessings. Our 10 year old granddaughter and her dad visit most Sunday’s just because they want to. We know this could end at anytime and feel very blessed. I am still surprised when she comes over to sit on my lap under the pretence of wanting to show me something. Ahhhh I am blessed.

  13. Great reminder about the sacred in ordinary moments Sr. Melannie!

    I had a meeting today with two folks who can really put me over the edge. I prayed before the meeting and did my relaxation breathing during the meeting. I found myself listening to them more closely and setting the past aside. It turned out to be an excellent meeting. A sacred moment for me.

    Thank you Holy Spirit.


  14. Thank you, Sister Melanie, for once again delivering a power reflection that takes the ordinary and blossoms it into the extraordinary by the gift of your words. I love your end quote, “For I believe the good and the beautiful and the true are always with us-…….leading us to be immeasurably grateful to God for the one precious human life we have been given.” I plan to share that quote with my friends, perhaps in the next few day after the ferver of the OSU Nat. Championship dies down! (I live in Columbus and I don’t think anyone will be thinking of anything else besides that game for awhile!)
    Thanks, again! You are truly a blessing!:)

  15. Sr melannie
    When i saw the comments(all by women) i knew i had to tell you that i too enjoyed your reflection about your time with cody…..even though i’m a man.Thanks so much for your thoughts .I look forward to your monday reflections ;so many simple yet profound and inspiring thoughts. I thought your “wishes for new year “was particularly insightful.
    God Bless
    ken donius
    ken donius

  16. “Little moment”in my otherwise ordinary commute to work: flipping through the radio channels I stopped on a station as Chuck Swindoll mentioned the scripture verse Ps.46:10 Be still and know that I am God.
    That was my Mom’s favorite verse. A wink from God!

  17. My little moment this week….going to work really early because this is tax season…I rounded the corner of my building to see the most spectacular sunrise…with pinks, blues & yellows. All I could think was…”Good morning, Lord! It’s gonna be a great day. Thanks for starting it off with your beauty!”

  18. Sr. Melanie
    Thanks so much for your beautiful story. Knowing the participants makes it even more poignant. This Christmas our daughter, her husband and 5 blessings joined us in Florida for the Christmas holidays. We are fortunate to have our own pool and the kids (ages13-5) spend almost every waking hour splashing and shouting and having fun in the water. After dinner one evening, the children thought it would be a good idea if Pop joined in the fun in the pool. Pop took valuables from his pockets and jumped in …clothes and all. Next it was my turn…then my sister and her husband and then their mom and dad. The children squealed at the fun.
    What wonderful memories we create!
    Again thanks for your story and for reminding me how very blessed we are to have these beautiful children to love.

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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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