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Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Sunflower Seeds

Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

My Sojourn in Hippy-Land

This past month I visited a special place I call Hip-Replacement-Surgery-Land—or Hippy-Land, for short. During my sojourn there, I learned (or re-learned) many things. Here are a few of them.

(Photo by Pixabay)

The power of prayer. So many people said they were praying for me—family, friends, readers, even strangers—that I felt encompassed by the love and goodness of others. Their promises of prayers and their good wishes gave me great consolation and courage. I thought, “No matter what happens, Melannie, you are being held.”

The healing power of my own body. Two weeks before the surgery, I held the titanium prosthesis the doctor was going to insert into my hip (after he removed my “original parts” that served me well for 79 years!) The new ball was rough to the touch. He explained, “That’s so your bones will grow around it.” I thought, “My bones know how to do that? Wow, I have smart bones!” During my recovery, I realized I have a smart entire body! For a great healing power resides within me–and in you too! In many ways, we are stronger than we think. I asked myself, “How am I using my powers for good?”

I stand on the shoulders of giants. The first metal-on-metal hip replacement was done in 1953. Those early surgeries were 74% effective. Today this surgery is one of the most successful orthopedic surgeries of all time. I was a beneficiary of all that research, knowledge, and experience accumulated during those seven decades! So, I not only stand on the shoulders of giants, I walk on their hips too!

Living off the grid. I am fascinated by TV programs showing people living off the grid. In a way, I felt I was living “off the grid” for two weeks. I didn’t go anywhere, I had no responsibilities (except to heal!) and I didn’t even look at my calendar! I let go of my ordinary work life–and (guess what?) it was refreshing!

(Photo by Kristina Paukshtite – Pexels)

Big Hearted Blooms. I stayed in our health care center for my recovery. One day, the aides came by my room pushing a cart loaded with vases of flowers. One vase for each resident. My bouquet contained five large lavender roses (like the rose featured at the beginning of this reflection) and rainbow colored baby breath. My flowers were exquisite! The woman who delivered them was a volunteer from “Big Hearted Blooms,” an organization that collects flowers from weddings, banquets, and funerals, arranges them in donated vases, and delivers them to individuals in care facilities. Their motto is: “Delivering joy through recycled flowers.” This is another example of good people, quietly doing a good and beautiful thing!

The care in healthcare. During my three and a half weeks in our healthcare center, I experienced the “care” in healthcare every day–from the nurses, aides, food service personnel, housekeeping staff, laundress, pastoral team, activities director, and physical and occupational therapists. For me, it was hard during those first days to ask for help for everything–especially at 2:30 in the morning! But, as more than one aide told me cheerfully when I apologized for bothering her, “That’s what I’m here for!” My stay gave me a greater appreciation of the many individuals who devote their lives to healthcare. And it reminded me of how many caring individuals it takes to operate the fine healthcare center we Sisters of Notre Dame have!

Insurance and the common good. Throughout this time, I never lost sight of how lucky I am to have health insurance! I checked: in the first three months of 2023, 25.3 million Americans or 7% of the US population did NOT have health insurance. The whole concept of insurance is based on the communal aspect of human living. In short, we pay insurance even when we don’t need it–so that those who do need it, are financially supported. And we draw out when we do need it, being supported by the rest of the community. Insurance (as well as taxes and many of our laws) only “work” if we believe in the “common good.”

((Photo by Pixabay)

Normal is beautiful! I returned to my apartment a few days ago, and my life is slowly getting back to normal. It feels so good to sleep in my own bed and pray in my own chair. Recently I saw an ad for a home decor store which said, “Ordinary is the opposite of beautiful.” I totally disagree! Returning home has re-taught me: The ordinary can be extraordinary! The everyday can be wonderful! The normal can be beautiful!

Cards. I received quite a few get-well cards. A friend arranged them on the shelves in my room so I could see and enjoy them every day. I appreciated all my cards! But one friend sent me not one card, but five cards–throughout my recovery. All were funny but they had a serious message too. I’ll end this reflection with her final card (by American Greetings) that said this: “The healing power of the Smiley Face… Smileys have been known to induce silliness. Side effects may include laughing, doing cartwheels, and an urge to draw more smileys. Smileys chase away the blues. Last but not least–smileys may become habit forming!”

(Photo by Tim Mossholder – Pexels)

For reflection:

Is there anything in this reflection that caught your attention today? If so what was it and why?

Have you ever experienced or are you currently experiencing a serious health issue? If so, what lesson(s) did you learn or re-learn from that experience?

Do you know any “good people quietly doing good and beautiful things”? If so, would you like to share them with us?

Our video is a good one for Lent. It’s “O God of Every Longing” by Sarah Hart. The song raises the question: what are you longing for? That’s a good question to ponder during Lent. Are you longing for things like healing? peace? truth? guidance? hope? freedom? love? forgiveness? joy? deliverance? or perhaps something else? If we explore our deepest longings, we will find God there…

I encourage you to write a comment below…

39 Responses

  1. Thank you…my son in law had both hips done a couple days apart 2yrs ago..was quite a deal but good now …my daughter will knee replacement end of march..and will have the other done a bit later…pls let us all pray for each other..

    1. Pat, We will all hold your daughter’s upcoming surgery in special prayer! Glad your son-in-law’s hip surgeries went well! Thanks for writing! Melannie

  2. Good morning, Melannie…
    Good morning, all…

    I think the reason we all so love reading your blog and, by extension, love you is your willingness to share not only your theological insights and such but also your life, the good, the sad, vulnerable. Your blog is like a good bottle of wine, with notes of joy, humor (smiley faces!), books suggestions, music, and most of all your deep faith — all of which help us to start our Monday knowing there’s “somebody out there” with a heart full of love, somebody out there praying for us, somebody out there who talks to us every Monday!

    1. John, Thank you for your beautiful words! And I know every week that there is “somebody out there” (like YOU and my other readers) with hearts full of love too! I appreciate your comments! Melannie

  3. Hooray for your new hip! May you be skipping & jogging the halls of Notre Dame for years to come!

    ATTITUDE! I find that to be the key to recovery. It is vital to the healing process, and It is easier to have a positive attitude when there is an end date when a return to normalcy is achievable.

    However, for those with a chronic or life-changing illness becomes the cross to bear, attitude waxes and wanes. I personally find that prayer, faith, and trust in God’s plan is the key, especially when the future is uncertain.

    For either situation, the health care teams are a lifeline to healing, but our Lord and all the angels, saints, and loved ones on our spiritual healthcare team provide what we need to overcome any hurdles.

    1. Carol,
      Although I don’t feel up to skipping and jogging yet, I am enjoying walking without pain! You make a good point about people suffering from a chronic or life-changing illness. It was easier for me to have a positive attitude. After all, I was getting better… Others were on a plateau or even decline. I agree with your words: “I personally find that prayer, faith, and trust is the key.” And also, the loving care of health care teams. Thanks for your wise words! Melannie

    1. And thank you Kathleen, for reading my blog and commenting. It is a blessing to journey with you too! Melannie

  4. Having had a hip replacement and recuperated in our health care center, I affirm your reflections and especially your gratitude. When recuperating, the smallest act of kindness to bring relief, ice, fresh water, a cheerful “hello” do as much to heal as medication. Many lessons are learned on a sick bed or chair and I am grateful for all of them especially for those who took care of things while I was gone. Glad you are much better and thank God for modern medicine.

    1. Eileen, Because you had this same surgery a few years back, you were an inspiration and encouragement to me. Every time I see you carrying our procession cross at our feasts and funerals, I am amazed at your full recovery from your surgery. Yes, during recovery “the smallest acts of kindness” mean so much! And thank God for modern medicine! Melannie

  5. It was so good visiting with you during your stay in Healthcare. What a pleasant surprise when I saw your name on the wall outside your door. God bless you.
    Father John

    1. Father John, And I was surprised to see you at my door during my stay in healthcare. Thank you for stopping by! Melannie

  6. Melannie, the next time I’m up, we can play a little touch football!!!! So glad all went well. Your email was so positive and awe-inspiring. Keep on healing and being open to all.


  7. Joni, Playing football–even touch football–might be a bit much for me right now… But who knows about the future?!… Speaking of football, congratulations on your Kansas City Chiefs clinching another Super Ball title… But seriously, hasn’t your team won enough? Maybe next year, just maybe, the Cleveland Browns will go all the way. I can dream, can’t I?… Thanks for writing! Melannie

  8. It was so good and affirming to read your post this morning Melannie. I experienced a lot of the same a few years ago after knee joint replacement surgery. It is so humbling having to rely on others for your daily living when you’re no longer independent for a time. But thank God for all the gifted care givers who provide that care at facilities and at home when we need it. And to experience the blessing of prayer from others for courage and healing is another great sign of God’s love for us. I agree with your follower, Carol. A positive & grateful attitude is key.
    I’m so happy you are home and well. Thank you for sharing your story and providing the inspirational music video, it brought me to tears. You continue to be in my daily prayers.
    Loretta Mach

    1. Dear cousin Loretta, Thank you for your beautiful response–and your prayers. It’s so good to know others like you have experienced the same “gifted caregivers” and the “blessing of the prayers” of others. It was good hearing from you! Melannie

  9. Sr. Melanie:

    Good to read that your hip surgery went well. Personally, I have had 9 operations, 3 spinal surgeries included and have always relied on my faith and Jesus to get me through all of them. I had a cardiac arrest in 2008, which was induced giving me a medicine I was allergic to. Luckily, my husband was there in my room at the time (I was hospitalized) and he realized I had stopped breathing. I owe him my life. I was given Seraquel (an anti-psychotic) and 19 hours later, my lungs and my heart stopped. Dan (my husband) ran out in to the hall screaming, “someone help me; my wife stopped breathing!!” I was in a coma for eight days on a respirator, but came to breathe on my own after eight days. It was a long recovery, but I literally owned Dan my life. I was given a second chance and to this day I thank God every day for my life. I lost Dan 2 years ago, but he always said to me, “whoever
    goes first, just remember …… life goes on.” I have always relied on Jesus (who has been my best friend since I was about 10), and pray the Rosary every day. It’s my quiet time to spend with God and talk to Him. When I got home from 2 months in 3 hospitals, I literally slept for one and a half years, 24/7 and to this day I have to nap every day. It has never ended. I have always accepted what I can’t change and this is no different. I am grateful for each day and all t he blessings I have in my life.

    1. Barbara, You certainly have had significant health issues. I was especially touched by your husband’s attentiveness and love for you–and your courage. Despite your sufferings, you can still count all your blessings… That’s amazing…Thank you! Melannie

  10. So happy you are doing so well.
    Thank you for sharing this beautiful song. Many tears listening to it.
    My younger sister’s aggressive cancer has returned 2 months after she was almost totally cured. She is stopping all treatments and only a matter of time. I am heartbroken but I know God is in control. “Thy Kingdom Come , Thy Will Be done”
    I beat the beast twice now and hoped and prayed so hard that she would too. Supported her the best I could throughout these past 7 months. 💔🙏

    1. Kathy, We will keep your younger sister in special prayer… May you continue to support her with your love and your faith. Melannie

  11. You always have the words to inspire. Sometimes, it’s best to slow down and count our blessings over dealing with our “to do” lists. Prayers that you continue on the path to good health.

    1. Karen, Yes, I certainly agree with you about taking time to slow down… and put our “to do” list aside–at least for a time. Thank you for your prayers. Melannie

  12. So happy for you that surgery went well and you are on the road to recovery! Praise be to God!
    “Ordinary can be extraordinary!” i had to laugh out loud with this saying….how many times I have come back home to be so glad to sleep in my own bed and take a shower in my own shower…even though some beds and showers are fancier than the one I have at home. We are so blessed with all of our many gifts.
    You asked for good people doing good and beautiful things…our Eucharistic Ministers for the Homebound…delivering Jesus to those who can’t come to Him.They are true angels who don’t get any recognition and are just happy to be carrying Jesus to others.
    Also we have a group of ladies who polish the brass, clean the holy water fonts and the votive candles and dust the church…no one ever sees them doing their quiet and respectful work…and yet they say they love to do it because they get to spend quiet time with the Lord while polishing His Church.

    1. Beverly, I loved your examples of “good people doing good and beautiful things.” Many times we take their service for granted: those who bring the Eucharist to the homebound… those who clean the holy water founts and polish the brass… those who launder the sacramental cloths used during Mass. There is much more goodness being quietly done in this world than our headlines talk about. Thanks for your specific reminders! Melannie

  13. Dear Sr. Melannie,
    So glad your hip surgery was successful and you are on the mend.
    you are right, our bodies are smart and know how to heal.
    A few weeks ago I had very painful plantar fasciitis in my left foot
    and I found some exercises for it on the internet and started doing them
    and now my foot is much better and I am walking normally again more or less.
    God is good. It was scary for a while, lots of pain and wondering if this was going
    to be the “new normal” for me but now I thank God and whoever put those exercises
    on the internet, they have really been difference makers.
    Brother Luke, OSB

    1. Brother Luke, Thank you for your example of a “scary” sudden pain. How fortunate that “someone” posted exercises that could help your condition. You were smart to check it out. And I’m glad you are now “walking normally again more or less”! As we age, sometimes we’re grateful for even “the less”! Thanks for sharing your story with us! Melannie

  14. Years ago I was readmitted to the hospital with a life-threatening blood clot after the birth of my fourth baby. It was indescribable releasing her to my husband and watching them depart the ER to return to our other children at home. Weeping and feeling so very alone, consumed within a cloud of darkness, I had no words to pray until I opened my pocket Bible and read Psalm 34, where the pages parted and it was declared to me, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who revere Him and He delivers them.” And “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and He rescues those whose spirit is crushed.” I was immediately grateful to see my feelings described and I was assured of God’s help and good company. My tears held many emotions as they continued into the morning. I turned again to scripture were I read, among other things, of Jesus meeting Mary Magdalen weeping outside His garden tomb. “Woman,” He said, “why are you crying?”

    Within the hour the housekeeper mopped her way into my hospital room. She met my eyes and spoke. “Woman, why do you cry? Don’t you know that the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him?” Never have I been more amazed! She continued to speak the Lord’s grace and love with an outpouring of quotes from His Word. Oh, it was a holy moment with a servant of the Lord sharing very good and beautiful things!

    To this day I continue to say “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

    Our tests lead to testaments and I thank you, Sister, for sharing yours!

    1. Deb, What an amazing story! How you took refuge in scripture and allowed your Bible to open on its own, revealing the comforting words of Ps. 34! And then Jesus’ words to Mary, “Woman, why are you weeping?” How beautiful! And finally, the housekeeper, speaking more scripture words of comfort and encouragement! We can read these words from scripture again and again. But on certain days, in the midst of specific difficult situations, these same words speak to us directly as they may have never spoken before. That’s the power of God’s Word! Thank you, Deb, for your touching story! Melannie

  15. Thank you, Mel, for sharing your “hippy” story today! I can relate VERY well having had two hip replacements done (2010 and 2012). Nevertheless, these have allowed me recently to be able to stand to paint in calligraphy quotes on two walls at Clearwater Center Catholic High
    School in Florida! One was done in the Academic Building between December 20, 2023 until January 19, 204. And the other was done in their St. Julie Billiart Chapel between January 22-31, 2024. Both were very challenging but also a privilege and I’m still overflowing with gratitude to our good God and to so many others who support me through these days to completion. So, Mel, keep healing; keep being grateful; and keep writing and inspiring so many. Thanks!

    1. Readers, Jo is a dear friend of mine, a master calligrapher, who recently painted these quotations on the walls at Clearwater Central Catholic. Her work is incredible! And she does this beautiful work despite some physical limitations. She climbs scaffolding and prints every letter by hand. I’ll ask her if I can post a photo of her work in an upcoming blog… Jo, thank you for writing! And thank you for bringing more and more beauty into our world through your calligraphy–and your presence in our midst! Mel

  16. Good morning Sister Melannie, thank you for your wonderful words regarding your hip replacement. My husband just had hip replacement surgery on Valentine’s Day. Was the best Valentine’s gift for both he and me. He is doing great but still has a ways to go. He says it is great to walk pain free, the incision has a bit of pain but the hip feels great. Praying for your healing to continue. 💕🙏🫂

    1. Shirley, I’m glad your husband is doing well after his hip replacement. I imagine you are doing some of his caregiving! Thank you for that too. My main work for now is the physical therapy. At times, it is very challenging, but my physical therapist is always upbeat and encouraging. (She’s funny too!) She always reminds me of how far I’ve come since we first started! We are quick to thank the surgeons for our successful surgery–and rightfully so! But the PT women and men are the people who really get us back on our feet again! Melannie

  17. Congratulations on your new hip! Did you get the luxury model?!? (LOL!) Only you could make hip replacement surgery and recovery a pleasure. What a great model for us all! Of course, I’ve benefited from your modeling for a long time! I’ll be in town early June and look forward to seeing you then! Keep walking, and reflecting and sharing your insight with us. Be assured of continued prayers for you and all the health care workers at the center, and everywhere.
    God Bless You.

    1. Chris, I think titanium IS the luxury model in hip replacements! Although the surgery and recovery are not exactly a “pleasure,” they are certainly filled with many blessings… I’m excited you’re coming to northeast Ohio in June. I’m always happy to see you again. I’ll gather a few of your other “old teachers” and we can have a nice lunch together. (Readers, Chris is one of my former students… and now a dear friend! She is also an excellent nurse!) Melannie

  18. I’m coming off a year that was challenging healthwise in so many ways. What I learned, and thought about again today, is that we never appreciate really good health until we lose it — and then, through God’s grace, regain it. I just said to my husband today that I am so, so grateful for where I am right now compared to most of 2023. The gift of healing is my great blessing to give thanks for during this Lenten season – every minute of every new healthy day. Never take good health for granted.

    1. Patt, What you say is SO true. For most of our life, we take good health for granted–until something goes wrong. I’m so glad you have regained your health now for 2024 and I pray it continues. Yes, healing is one of our greatest blessings. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us! Melannie

  19. Oh I can so relate to all that you said about your stay in “Hippy Land”! I had, I guess, major foot surgery on December 8th. Prior to that I had been wearing a CAM boot since June. I have not worn two shoes or driven since July. I teach middle school and have not been in my classroom since December 7th. After surgery I was non-weight bearing for, supposed to be, 2 weeks. It ended up being 4. I am finally able to walk with 1 crutch or a cane. YAY!

    Relying on others, asking others for help, not having to go or do something all took a lot of time to get comfortable with. My parents and in-laws have been driving me since August-to school, to the doctor, now to Physical Therapy. My husband and my son have taken on sorting the laundry(my husband does the laundry during the school year) and cooking. Since it was around Christmas they also did all our baking.

    My best friend since college took it upon herself to send me a funny foot/walking/healing meme/GIF everyday for about 2 weeks. She also randomly sent me cards that she had made. Those things made a huge difference in my mental state.

    People talk about having “Come to Jesus” meetings when they are sick or something. I tried to view my non-mobile time as a gift from God. It was during Advent and now Lent. I didn’t pray the same way as before surgery. It was more on-going conversations throughout the day. Much more interesting than talking to the walls.

    Bless you and your continuing healing. Thank you!

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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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