In his book, Drink Deeply with Delight, Howard Hanger (an ordained Methodist Minister) shares a dialogue between a little girl and her mother at bedtime. The little girl asks, “Are we rich, Mommy?”


Her mother replies, “Why do you ask?” The little girl says, “Because the kids in kindergarten said it was cool to be rich. That rich people had more fun.”


Her mother says, “The children are absolutely right.” Then she adds, “But there’s a big problem with being rich. You gotta be rich in the right way.” Her mother goes on to explain some of the different ways you can be rich. “There’s money-rich, family-rich, laughter-rich, love-rich.” She asks her little girl, “Can you think of any other ways to be rich?”


The little girl says, “There’s friend-rich. And chocolate-chip-cookie-rich.”


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The Mary Hartline Doll

I love that little dialogue. It took me back to my childhood when I became aware that some kids in school were richer than I was (and a couple seemed poorer). The fact that we weren’t materially rich always hit me at Christmas time. I would make a long list of the things I wanted, but I knew I wouldn’t get everything—or even the thing I wanted the most. One year I wanted a 22-inch Mary Hartline Doll the most. (She was the majorette on the TV show “Super Circus,” a popular kids’ show in the 50’s when I was a kid.) My mother gently tried to prepare me for the reality that I wouldn’t be getting that big doll I wanted. But on Christmas I did get a Mary Hartline Doll—only it was the 7-inch version. When I returned to school after Christmas, I learned that some of the girls in my class had gotten the BIG Mary Hartline Doll for Christmas. They were richer than I was. Or so I thought so back then.


But as I got older, I gradually became aware of how rich my growing up years really were. I was land-rich (on our small farm we had 22 acres of lawns, fields, and woods to play in.) I was parent-rich (both my parents loved us, took care of us, and loved each other too.) I was sibling-rich (I had an older sister and two older brothers—my constant companions to play with, learn from, and get into mischief with.) And I was pet-rich (dozens of cats, dogs, and parakeets populated and enriched my childhood.)


I was pet-rich… (photo by Umit Ozbek)


As an adult, I am now aware of my wealth in other ways. I am education-rich (from my James A. Garfield Elementary School years, through Regina High School and Notre Dame College years, and my graduate years at Indiana U. and Duquesne U., and all the many workshops, conventions, retreats, I’ve been privileged to participate in.) I am health-rich… faith-rich… friend-rich… ministry-rich… and the list goes on and on.


Are you friend-rich? (photo by Helena Lopes)

Today you might want to reflect on this question: What parts of your life make you rich? (As we prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day, some of you might say “I am mother-rich” … Or if you are a mother, you might say, “I am child-rich.”)


Then: how might you show your appreciation for the wealth you have received? For example, if you are sibling-rich you might want to connect with a sibling today. If you are friend-rich, call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Just tell them you were reflecting on how rich you are and THEY came to mind! If you are a-few-extra-dollars-rich, you might want to donate some of them to a food bank or some other organization whose mission you support. In whatever ways you find yourself rich today, give thanks to God—and share your riches with others.


PS #1: A Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there! May your day be blessed with joy!


PS #2: Reminder: I’m giving a zoom retreat on HOPE May 24-29, sponsored by Heartland Center for Spirituality in Great Bend, KS. Check their website for details: https://heartlandspirituality.org. I hope to “meet” some of you then!


PS #3: Some of you received a post on Friday listing the last nine reflections on my blog. That post was a glitch… Sorry. As some of you noted, my new blog used a small font and light print. I found the way to remedy that. I hope you find the bigger and darker font easier to read. All the reflections are in this newer form.



The music and the words for this hymn go back to the 18th and 19th Centuries. The song is called “For the Beauty of the Earth” and is sung here by Audrey Assad. I like the visuals which highlight the riches of creation as well as the riches of family and friends.



I wish you many blessings today! And I hope some of you will share your thoughts on this reflection below.

23 Comments

  1. Bonnie on May 3, 2021 at 8:05 am

    Just beautiful! Watching and listening to this brought me back thru the beautiful journey Our Heavenly Father has set us on! I was so scared to leave our home of 39 years and have found beauty beyond compare! God does know best!!

  2. Lisa D’Amore on May 3, 2021 at 8:33 am

    What a beautiful post on being rich! I have commented during many chapters of my life that I regularly experienced “poverty of time.” During a Covid furlough followed by unemployment, I’ve experienced a time-richness that was pure gift during an unimaginable chapter in our history. This rich deposit of time sustains me now during the rigors of a new job. Thank you, Sr. Melannie, for all the creative ways you make weekly deposits in your blog that make us, your readers, prayer-richer!

  3. John Hopkins on May 3, 2021 at 9:15 am

    Good morning, Melannie…

    When I first started teaching and my family was younger — much younger — we had to find ways to entertain ourselves for free, and so we discovered the Blue Hills in Milton/Canton. Massachusetts. We would tramp those hills every chance we got — weekends, birthday parties, New Year’s day (yes, brrrrr!). Our children are all in their thirties, but even now, if they are home from out of state or can find the time, will head for the Blue Hills. They have even introduced their friends to the Blue Hills. So I guess you could say, our family is Blue Hills-rich!

    And, this being teacher appreciation week and all, I can also say I’m colleague-rich, student-rich, and book-rich!

  4. Barb on May 3, 2021 at 10:53 am

    I love Audrey Assad. I hadn’t heard her sing this yet, what a blessing. Beautiful earth! Thanks Melannie!

  5. Sister Ann Paula Pohlman on May 3, 2021 at 12:05 pm

    I saw S. Lucia in your picture last week. She was the principal of ou Catholic high in Sarasota Florida. S.Ann Paula SP

  6. Barbara Seiberlich on May 3, 2021 at 12:11 pm

    What beautiful music, and the video was stunning. Thank you!

  7. Peter C. Hirst on May 3, 2021 at 1:16 pm

    Rich? Yes, family rich, faith rich and blog rich! I had to harmonize with your song, I couldn’t help it! Thanks Sr. Melanie

  8. Rebecca Johansen on May 3, 2021 at 3:26 pm

    Sr. Melanie,So thrilled to finally share with you how much I appreciate your blog. It allows me to contemplate many things especially when I am feeling alone!! You bring me joy and happiness…thank you

  9. Shirley on May 3, 2021 at 3:34 pm

    Thank you Sister Melannie, this was an awesome blog. I am Family rich and rich in so many other ways, health rich, I will be 75 in a month and walk 3 miles 5 days a week. Have a blessed week!

  10. Sue on May 3, 2021 at 6:12 pm

    Hi Sister
    I can remember when i was starting High School, and I wanted one of those bouffant hair dryers.
    Well, I DID receive one, but had to wait 3 months til my birthday!!! I wish we could go back to those days!!!!
    I feel every day rich. And rich every Monday reading your sooo unique blogs. I’m always amazed….
    Thank you,

  11. Michelle on May 3, 2021 at 6:43 pm

    Rich in so many ways, hit the jackpot with my family. Thankful to be part close knit family and large extended family. Friends rich have had the same friends for over 35 yrs. Rich with a gene for compassion, all must remember. No act of kindness, no matter how small is ever wasted. Thank you for such a wonderful post Melanie and great song/video that fits perfect with your message.

  12. Susan Wigg on May 4, 2021 at 2:33 am

    A beautiful thought provoking reflection. I feel so rich, family, faith, friends, health…
    Today though it has been grandchildren rich. We get to spend every Monday with our two grandchildren 4 and 2 years old. At the end of the day we are exhausted but so filled with love from these little people. What a gift.
    Thank you Sister .

  13. Gretchen on May 4, 2021 at 3:30 am

    Hi, Sister,
    Loved the video and music and, indeed, consider myself rich beyond measure for the family and friends who grace my life. I, like you, am the proud owner of a 7″ Mary Hartline doll. Yes, I still have it. =)

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on May 5, 2021 at 11:47 am

      Dear Gretchen, I’m amazed you still have your Mary Hartline doll… Mine is long gone… But I’m glad to meet someone else who loved this particular doll! Thanks for reading my blog and responding! Sr. Melannie

  14. Nancy on May 4, 2021 at 3:51 am

    Sang that hymn as a child. Love it! Thanks for sharing. Nancy

  15. John D. Ruscito on May 4, 2021 at 12:40 pm

    Among the any riches I count, I include “Sister Melanie Rich.” Thank you for your thoughtful, insightful, and compassionate posts.

  16. Donna Wetick on May 4, 2021 at 8:47 pm

    Grateful for our technological riches that provide inspiration. The music video was beautiful showing our gracious God’s masterpiece. Thank you Sr. Melanie for your weekly reflections.

  17. Jean Canatsey on May 4, 2021 at 11:41 pm

    I am rich in so many ways. I am love rich (65 years married on June 9th), children rich (8 children, 20 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren), butterfly rich (We are releasing several Monarchs every few days.), friend rich, pet rich, and green bean rich (I will begin picking this week.). After spending Saturday with family on the St. John’s River and swimming daily in our pool, I feel water rich! I am grateful for the many blessings that God has bestowed on me (including you, Sr.Melannie!

  18. Sr. Rose on May 5, 2021 at 1:42 pm

    In addition to all the riches pointed out above, I have to add that I am student-rich. I have been so blessed in almost 50 years in secondary education to have taught so many fine young women (mostly) and men. I am still astonished that so many parents have entrusted their most precious gifts—their children—to my care. God has been so good to me.

  19. S. Pat Newhouse, SC on May 7, 2021 at 10:08 am

    I always enjoy your blog richness every Monday, Melannie. I’ll be joining you on your HOPE Zoom retreat May 24 – 28.

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on May 7, 2021 at 12:56 pm

      Thank you, Pat!… I look forward to “meeting” you on our retreat! Melannie

  20. Ann S on May 13, 2021 at 9:32 am

    Many thanks, Sr. Melannie, for your Amazingly-Rich Reflections throughout the years!
    They were especially appreciated during this past year. I never looked forward to Monday as much as I do now. …”.Blessings beyond the telling”! So Rich in the ways that count!

    I hope you come back to Siena Center in Racine, WI. I met you there–2017??
    Love and Many Prayers,
    Ann in Germantown,WI

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