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Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Sunflower Seeds

Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Have You Had Your Dose of Beauty for Today?


The old proverb says, “If you have only two coins left, use one to buy a loaf of bread, and the other one to buy a hyacinth.” I like that! It reminds us that having beauty in our life can be just as important as having food. We need a regular dose of beauty to counterbalance the ugly, stressful, and depressing things we may see on any given day.

(Photo by Viktoria Bzdyk – Pexels)


In my book, The Grace of Beauty, I devote several chapters to beauty’s positive influence on our brain, physical health, and spiritual life. I also try to show that beauty comes in a wide variety of forms. Take creation. Many of us are quick to find beauty in the natural world. We frequent parks, we putter in our gardens, we play with our pets, we feed the birds, we take time to enjoy a sunset, we look up at the stars at night.


Some of us find beauty in words. I am one of those rare individuals who really, really likes Melville’s Moby Dick. From the first sentence (“Call me Ishmael”) to the last (“It was the devious-cruising Rachel, that in her retracing search after her missing children, only found another orphan”). Others of us find beauty in poetry, plays, movies, bands or orchestras. Some of us prefer the visual arts and go to art museums where we get lost in Impressionist paintings, Indian pottery, or contemporary photography.


There’s beauty even in sports. For example, I love the grace and precision of a well-turned double play. Or a receiver zig-zagging the full 100 yards to return a punt. Or the gracefulness of a successful 19 yard putt. There’s beauty to be found just about anywhere—in science, medicine, construction, cooking, crafts, religion, and (of course) in people. The secret is to notice, pause, and enjoy.

(Photo by jamie he – Pexels)


How does beauty work her positive magic on our psyche and soul? Here are a few ways:


Beauty grounds us. It demands our full attention. When we are entranced by beauty, we can’t be ruing the past or worrying about the future; we are rooted in the here and now.


Beauty affirms life. In his book, Beauty and the Soul, Piero Ferrucci writes, “The more we can perceive beauty in our surroundings and also inside us, the more we feel at home and glad to exist.”

(Photo by Pixabay)


Beauty stimulates the imagination. When we feel overwhelmed by our problems or imprisoned by circumstances, beauty can activate our imagination. It can lead us to see things differently and to envision new possibilities.


Beauty eases our sense of aloneness. We feel more connected with others when we are experiencing something beautiful. And many times we may even feel more connected to the Other, namely, God, the ultimate source of all Beauty.


Speaking of God, let me tell you of this incident with my father. My dad always had a big garden. Every day, even before he retired, he would spend hours out there weeding, watering, and caring for everything he grew: asparagus, peas, tomatoes, peppers, beans, spinach, basil, cauliflower, broccoli, corn, squash, watermelons—you get the idea. One birthday, my sister gave him a small plaque which said, “I never feel closer to God than when I’m in my garden.” When Dad unwrapped it and read it, he smiled and said, “This is exactly how I feel too!”

The beauty of selfless loving… (Photo by RODNAE – Pexels)


Prayer…


Beautiful God, help me to grow in my awareness of the beauty all around me: in creation, in people, in myself, and in human-made beauty expressed in color, line, texture, word, symbol, sound, gesture, and movement. Help me to grow in my appreciation of beauty’s mystery, power, delight, and absolute necessity in my life. Give me the grace to contribute my own particular beauty into this world—especially through beauty’s highest expression: selfless loving. I ask these things of you, “O Beauty ever ancient, ever new.” Amen.


For reflection:


Where do you find beauty in your everyday life?


Recall an incident where a few moments of beauty “nourished your soul.” Could you share it with us?


What other effects of beauty (beside the ones listed above) have you experienced?


PS: I big thank you for your prayers for last week’s retreat with the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, KS. The Sisters and I appreciated your support! And I want to send out a special thank you to two of their sisters: Sisters Noreen and Judy who helped me so much all week. Noreen was my DJ and more, and Judy was my Uber driver and more!

And now I have a real treat for you: an 8 minute dose of beauty! The video features an artist, Jay Lee, painting a field of sunflowers! The video includes some lovely relaxing music too. Watch as the artist paints not only with a brush, but also with some unusual utensils! It’s amazing!






I encourage you to add a comment below. I love hearing from you!

24 Responses

  1. The end of the sentence – “and buy a hyacinth” is “to feed your soul”. I have always loved that phrase. Say it every time I see a Hyacinth.

    1. Sunflowers are my favorite flower as they raise up to kiss the sun and glorify the Son! I really enjoyed the artists at work…in painting and music. Thanks so much, Sister Mellanie! Like the sunflower, you’re also my favorite!

    2. Of all things of beauty in the natural world which I love as a good Franciscan. One of the. Most beautiful is something created by man when you look at it correctly. We live in Florida about 45 miles from the spaceport. Standing in my front yard watching a launch is to me one beautiful occurrence even though it’s totally man made. To us missing a launch is like walking through an art studio with out looking at the art.I honestly feel sorry for they people who are rushing through life and never looking up to see the wonder of space flight.

  2. Moments of beauty for me — most poignant were watching the water flowing over the heads of my grandchildren at their baptism, I still tear up thinking of it — passing the faith I got from my grandmother and mother and the faith I share with my husband of 55 years – on to the next generation. I treasure those moments and think of them frequently.

  3. Beauty reminded me of the book,Black Beauty. I read and reread as a child. Horses and really all of God’s creatures are beautiful.How beautiful must God be.

  4. Ah — a breath of fresh air in the midst of the evening news. Beautiful! Thanks Melannie. I have a confession to make: All my English teachers are probably deceased by now – so it is safe to ‘fess up” Cliff Notes served me oh so well when it came time to read Moby Dick! So everyone has a different sense of beauty!!!! I could add on some others as well!!!! Thanks for the beautiful thoughts on beauty and for the video!

  5. Thank you Sister Melannie! The song and painting was magnificent. I Love sunflowers!! So glad your retreat was good too!

  6. A month or so ago I bought your book, The Grace of Beauty, because your weekly blog has been so inspirational to me. So I read each chapter of the book to my wife, Eve, of 63 years. We loved every word of it. The book is a deeply spiritual experience because it appeals somewhat to the mind but much more to the heart, drawing us to a greater appreciation of beauty in general but especially to the marvelous creativity of God and to God’s self. We read several chapters of the book again after finishing, but stopped because the next book of yours, When the Rain Speaks, arrived and now we are reading it to each other. Each chapter of both books (and they are only 2-3 pages in length) ends with a one or two line prayer of yours that encapsulates the message of the chapter. Thank you for your wonderful imagination and creativity in producing these two books.

  7. This is a great and profound topic that merits much reflection. I might be back with a more thought-out response!

    Thank you, Sr Melannie, for all that you do here at Sunflower Seeds, and with your retreats.

    Peace and light
    Thomas

  8. Good evening, Sr. Melannie…

    I loved “Moby Dick” (except that chapter about the science of whales, what was it called? Cetology?) I loved it so much I decided my students should love it too, but — alas! — that was not the case!

    Here’s what I find beautiful: Whenever my three children are together, I love to listen to them talk. They are the funniest people I know! They are clever, witty, and just flat out hilarious! But best of all they like each other. Beautiful!

  9. Good morning! As I began to read your wonderful words I was immediately transported to an ugly MInnesota morning commute several years ago. I left a few minutes early that morning thinking I had gotten ahead of the traffic snarl that happens on snowy mornings. No such luck. I was at creeping at a snail’s pace, getting frustrated knowing that my morning was going to be mess. Less preparation for a meeting, returning calls, etc. We came to a dead stop and I could feel my frustration turning to anger. I was on the part of the freeway surrounded by pine trees. I looked out my side my window and suddenly I was focused on the snow falling on the trees and the wind making the snow dance around the swaying branches. I was immediately jolted from anger to awe. It was so calming. I remember thanking God for this beautiful moment that I had almost missed due to “my” view of the commute. When I found myself in similar situations again, I would pause and look for the beauty around me. Sometimes it was the person in the next car – I would say a Hail Mary for that person and whatever was on their mind that morning. That one morning totally changed my perspective of my drive to work. Having retired a few years ago I don’t miss the commute although in my new busyness I have to remind myself to stop and look for God’s wonders.

    Thank you Sister for the wonderful memory and the gentle reminder of the beauty that surrounds us in the everyday.

    1. And thank you, Meri Jo, for sharing such a simple, yet profound conversion story… Made all the difference to your blood pressure, too! 😊

  10. There is so much beauty around us! Sad when you know that some people take it all for granted. I loved the painting video. Some very unique “tools”, some of which I’ve tried, and others I will try out soon! I am a watercolor artist. Painting soothes my soul. I need to check out some of your more recent books.

  11. I experience beauty each morning as I swim from one end of my pool to the other. I’m aware of the beauty of the sky and the trees. I’m aware of the squirrels chasing each other through the tree tops and the sound of the birds calling to each other. I count the blooms on my roses and look for the Hibiscus blossoms in their ever changing colors. After awhile my husband begins reading our daily reflections to me and we discuss them. Most of all, I’m aware of the quiet and the feel of the water.Thank you Lord, for the beauty of nature and the gift of experiencing it every morning.

  12. Yes – that video is truly amazing! I intend to show it to my grandnephews when I baby sit them to inspire them to use tools other than brushes or fingers to paint!
    As a math teacher for 42 years (now retired), I’ve found beauty in numbers, patterns, and many areas of mathematics (The Pythagorean Theorem, The Golden Ratio, The Fibonacci Sequence, to name a few) and tried to use real life examples of them in nature to teach my students!
    God is in the details!

  13. Thanks for another lovely reflection. The video was amazing. I’m a quilter (in my “spare” time) and I find that looking at the various colors of fabric give me the beauty I need each day. Even if I only get to my sewing area for a few minutes, it is enough to nourish me.

    Thanks again.

  14. So true! We all need our “daily dose” of beauty. For me, half the battle was simply LOOKING. Pausing to look for beauty every morning makes the whole day better. (Practical application … My recent “thing” is dahlia’s … I’ve collected hundreds of photos and use them for my screensaver.)

  15. More years ago than I care to count, I was in Lourdes with some friends. One morning we took a trip up into the Pyrenees mountains and walked into a small semicircular valley full of snow. The cliffs around us, the silence, the local village dog, who followed us and was rolling around in the snow all totally overwhelmed me with their sheer beauty! I’m no longer sure how accurate my memory of the place is but it’s still where I go in meditation.

  16. Dearest Melanie
    Your wonderful stories help my day extra special!
    I say my Morning prayers and readings after feeding God’s Feathered Angels, and Your wonderful posts add to my Connection with God. If we only take a few moments to look at the Beauty in God’s Majestic Creations, especially in summer when the Earth and its creatures reflect the Wonder of God!
    Even in a world that seems to have more sorrows than Joys, there is Kindness and Love if we only open our Hearts and Eyes.
    Thank You for always inspiring me 😇🙏🏼

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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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