Sunflower Seeds logo

Sunflower Seeds


Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Sunflower Seeds

Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

My Quotation Collection

When I was in high school, I began collecting quotations: A line from a poem, a proverb I chanced upon, something I read in a book. I dutifully copied them into a small notebook and took joy in reading them from time to time.

As a college student (and a novice) I continued collecting quotes, only now I found the small notebook confining and

In high school I began to copy quotations into a small notebook.
In high school I began to copy quotations into a small notebook.

inefficient. It was difficult for me to find and retrieve a particular quote when I wanted it. So I started writing the quotations on 3″ x 5″ cards. Back in those olden days, however, I would never have thought to ask my novice director for real file cards. That would have been too extravagant. Instead I found some half clean paper and cut my own 3″ x 5″ cards. I would write a key word on each card—such as love, suffering, joy—copy the quotation, and file the card alphabetically.

As a teacher, my quote collection grew so large, I scrounged up some old metal drawers in which to store them. I had two drawers at first and then four drawers. Today I have six drawers and am considering purchasing

Here are my eight drawers of quotations. They are so stuffed, I must buy some additional drawers!
Here are my six drawers of quotations. They are so stuffed, I must buy some additional drawers!

another two. I regularly used my quotations in my teaching. In my classroom I often wrote a quote in the top corner of the blackboard each day. Sometimes I would refer to the quote during a lesson. Other times I would just let the quote speak for itself. If I forgot to change the quote on a given day, a student would point to the board before class and say, “Sister, that’s the quote from yesterday. What’s today’s quote?” Sometimes I would see a student copying the quote in her notebook. Other times a student would hand me a quote he thought I might like.

As a writer, I refer to my quotation “library” often. I figure if someone else has already said well what I was going to say, why not quote them? I know you can get all kinds of quotes online these days, but sometimes you have to plow through dozens to find a gem. Whereas I know most of the quotes in my library are already gems. That’s why I copied them in the first place.

I’m always on the lookout for new quotes. Whenever I read a book, for example, I use a half dozen or so file cards as my bookmark. If I come across a quote I really like, I copy it onto a card as I’m reading the book. My quotation collection is constantly expanding. Friends (like Bishop Bob Morneau of Green Bay, WI) often send me quotes. When I’m giving retreats or talks, participants sometimes write out one of their favorite quotations for me.

Which categories do I have the most quotations for? That’s easy: Life and love. But Adversity, Education, Faith, God, Nature, Prayer, and Writing also have a lot of quotes.

How could I write about my quote collection without sharing a few quotes with you? First, here’s an old one written on a 3″ x 5″ piece of half-clean paper—so it’s from my college days—(that’s 50 years ago!): I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we’re moving (Oliver Wendell Holmes).

In contrast, here is a quote I copied only yesterday: Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well (Robert Louis Stevenson). 

Under Humility I have this gem: Humility is the ability to recognize the glory in the clay of me (Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB).

And I must include one of my zillion quotes on love: Nothing is solid, everything moves. Except love. Hold on to love. Do what love requires (Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ).

And finally, let me conclude with a quotation about quotations by a U.S. Quotation Anthologist and author of the website: The Quote Garden: “Most collectors collect tangibles. As a quote collector, I collect wisdom, life, invisible beauty, souls alive in ink (Terri Guillemets). I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Here is a quote from Jesus, one of the most often-quoted persons of all. It is set to music by JumpStart3 a group started by Jeff McCullough. As a child, Jeff’s learning disability made it difficult for him to memorize scripture. As an adult, with his background in music and writing jingles for companies nation-wide, he decided to set scripture verses to upbeat contemporary music especially for children. Here is “I leave you my peace.”


Do you like quotations? If so do you have a favorite one you’d like to share with us?

31 Responses

  1. “You are nearer God’s heart in a garden than any other place on earth.”

    “The teacup is already broken.”

    Regretfully, I do not know the source. The first was on a postcard that my catechism teacher sent to me in the early 60’s.

  2. Good morning, Sister,

    What a fine way to begin the day, and week!
    Here are a few quotes that I keep going back to, and remind me of the road for my journey.

    Complaining and criticizing spread angry clouds that hide hope and kill joy. Kathryn Hermes, FSP
    The future sleeps contentedly in the eternal present of an unquestioning love. Miriam Pollard OCSO
    The world for which you have been so carefully prepared is being taken away from you by the grace of God. Walter Brueggeman

    God bless you. Joanne

  3. Dear Sr. Melannie: I love collecting quotes as well…some of my latest:

    “Preach the Gospel always; if necessary, use words.”
    “When you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.” + St. Francis of Assisi

    Relicta sunt duo: Misera et Misericordia – “And two were left: the one filled with misery, and the one filled with mercy” + St. Augustine

    There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
    Albert Einstein

    Wonderful daily reminders!

  4. “We’re not here to earn God’s love . . . we’re here to spend it!”
    ~Steve Bhaerman
    Thanks for the great reflection.
    Juli Curcio

  5. What a blessing you were smart enough in high school to begin saving quotes. My first thought was to have someone enter them in the computer and you could search by subject–but that would ruin the memories when you touch the piece of paper you wrote it on!

    Loved seeing you at the mass at John Carroll!

  6. A favorite quote of mine is, “I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now…for I shall not pass this way again.”

  7. Thank you for your blog. I love it.
    I keep a little book of things I have heard from people in my life that resonated with me at that time in my life, so it is chronological. I add quotes from famous people too.
    Here are some quotes from everyday people in my life:
    “I’ve got nothing to hide from me” ~Andy
    “Its hard to be humble when I’m wearing my snakeskin boots and silk underwear.” ~Dave
    “The simplest part of God is beyond description.” ~Rosemary
    “Even in suffering, be intrigued” ~not sure
    “The only thing I used to pay attention to were my thoughts and feelings.” ~Diane

  8. I so enjoyed your Quotes!! here is a quote I heard a long time ago and I live by and share a lot, “when you speak, speak of sweet words, you never know when you have to eat them”. Also, I made one up when my handsome son was little. I always told him: “your looks will people to you, but your mouth will keep them there”
    May God keep you and Bless you, I so enjoy your writing!!

  9. “Even when we don’t desire it, God is ripening.”… Rilke

    “The human soul is a dwelling place of God for those who keep it unlocked and swept!”… Julian of Norwich

    “If we don’t transform our anger we will transmit it!”… Richard Rohr,osf and: “Transformed people transform people!”……………”

    I, too, have enjoyed collecting sayings and quotes. I keep them alphabetically by author but I think I will cross reference them now in categories as you do. Better idea!

  10. Thanks Sr Melanie for sharing about quotes and their impact. I loved the quote from the Quote Garden that as quote collectors we collect wisdom, life, invisible beauty and souls alive in indelible ink. The songs you suggest are always engaging.

    Just today, I was collecting a few senteneces at the end of Our Daily Bread daily reflections, often without an author cited. These are my top three:
    We are shaped and fashioned by what we love most.
    In prayer God hears more than your words – He listens to your heart.
    Patience is not a desperate waiting in doubt, but a hopeful waiting in confidence. [RBC Ministries]
    Thank-you all for sharing your wisdom and love too.

  11. Sister Melannie,

    From time to time while growing up, my father would say to me, “It’s always darkest just before dawn.” I don’t know where he heard it or if he made it up himself, but he was right. He would say it when he was comforting me from a disappointment, a breakup etc. Over the years I’ve heard myself saying the same quote to my children, friends and now my grandchildren. It makes me feel so close to my dad, who died in 1983.

    Thank you for this blog!

  12. Sister Melanie,
    I am so happy find out that I am not the only one to collect quotes, or favorite lines from books. Here are three of my favorites:

    “God is closer to us than water is to a fish.” – St. Catherine of Siena

    “It is not what you are nor what you have been that God sees with his all-merciful eyes, but what you desire to be.” – The Cloud of Unknowing

    “When you wear the weed of impatience in your heart instead of the flower of Acceptance-with-Joy, you will always find your eminies get an advantage over you.” – Hannah Hurnard, HINDS FEET ON HIGH PLACES

    Thanks for a great start to the week, every week!

    Joan Metzger

  13. Beautiful reflection. Thank you! Some of my favorites:
    To keep a lamp burning we have to keep putting oil in it. Mother Theresa
    When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.
    Eleanor Roosevelt
    Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content. Helen Keller

  14. …Learn a lesson from the dinosaurs: She who cannot adapt soon becomes extinct. I developed this philosophy as I learned from living!

    Thanks for sharing all your wisdom, Melannie.

  15. my favourite
    Have you not heard his silent steps
    he comes, comes, ever comes
    by Rabindra Nath Tagore

  16. I love a good quote! I have some written in my journals but am not nearly as organized about it as you are! One of my favorite quotes is:
    It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. ~~Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince
    One of my heroes, MisterRogers, had it displayed in his office
    God Bless all!

  17. Sister,
    Collecting quotes, poems, clippings, and other literary gems is a passion of mine as well! I only have least a dozen now. When I worked in a library, we were discarding a well worn copy of “Stevenson’s Book of Quotations” which I immediately claimed as my is at least 5 inches thick and comes in handy for pressing flowers!
    This is my most recent entry: (I don’t know who wrote it)
    “Someone once gave me a big box of Darkness.
    it took me years to realize that, this too was a gift.”

  18. What a unique way to inspire, I posted the humility quote in your blog on my FB page today. I can’t even imagine a file cabinet full of quotes. Thanks Sr Melanie

  19. Thank you!
    Clare Booth Luce
    Happiness consists of a solid faith, good health, and a bad memory.

  20. When I am obsessing about getting ministry ” just right” I go back to St. Peter Julian Eymard: “We do not dwell in Jesus when we dwell in the labor of his service…or on what may procure his glory…or when we work for our own perfection according to the law or virtue. In these states the soul dwells in itself – always restless – exposed to all winds. To dwell in Jesus is to leave oneself behind, to strip oneself of self, to give oneself as one gives wood to the fire – a heart to royal love – a life for a royal life.”

  21. When we were kids, my folks had a book of quotations and every evening when the family gathered for dinner, one child would pick out a quote and read it. We had five kids so every day of the week one of us was on deck to read from “the book”. Great memories (and great drama if for some reason we couldn’t find “the book”)!

    One of my favorites from that book: “Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings.” – Victor Hugo

    One of my favorites from my Dad: “You can’t push on a rope”

    I would love to get one of your Quotes delivered to my in-box every morning. WDYT? Do the SND have the technology?

  22. What a beautiful way to share your quotations. It gives such inspiration to begin writing mine and hopefully share them toy children . I wish I done this years ago. Thank you for inspiring me at 71. I will begin now. A new adventure .

  23. I want to thank all of you who responded to this week’s post! The quotations you shared were wonderful! You gave us much to ponder–and even to copy down! Thank you again! Sr. Melannie

  24. I have always been enamored with the wisdom found in quotes. It’s a way of sharing an encouraging word. Thank you, Sister, for your uplifting blog.

  25. My favorite is from Winnie the Pooh (a.a. Milne): “I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart very long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.” Thank you Sister Melannie. Your words have inspired me for several years now. My relationship with our Lord has been strengthened by them. You brighten my day. God bless you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Blog Posts

(Please note: Today’s reflection deals with a very disurbing topic: war. Some of you may find this reflection very difficult to read. I understand. I found it very difficult to write.) Memorial Day will be celebrated next Monday in the U.S. This is the day set aside to remember and

Today I’m sharing with you a famous prayer/poem/ written by St. John Henry Newman. But first, a few words about this saint canonized by Pope Francis in October 2019. John Henry Newman (1801-1890) was born in London, England, the eldest of six children. His father was a banker. As a

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!

Subscribe to Blog

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Upcoming Events

Finding God in the Ordinary and Amazing: An Afternoon with Sister Melannie

Sunday, May 19, 2024 – 1:30 – 4:00 Central – via zoom

Sponsored by the Portiuncula Center for Prayer – Frankfort, Illinois

Fee: Donation

For details visit: [email protected]

Weekend retreat at Villa Maria Education and Spirituality Center, Pulaski, PA
October 11-13, 2024

October 11-13, 2024

Details to follow

Retreat with the Sisters of Loretto, Nerinx, KY
September 8-13, 2024

September 8-13, 2024

Details to follow

Retreat at Lial Renewal Center, Whitehouse, OH
August 11-18, 2024

August 11-18, 2024

Retreat at Heartland Center for Spirituality, Great Bend, KS
April 14-19, 2024

April 14-19, 2024

Details to follow