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Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Sunflower Seeds

Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Praying with Isaiah 49: 8-15

Sometimes a scripture passage will speak to your soul. This passage from the prophet Isaiah (used this past Lent on March 13th) really spoke to me. I would like to share some of my prayer, my conversation with God, as I reflected on this passage. I will quote the words of Isaiah in regular type, and put my own words in italics. Notice, I don’t include the entire passage. I focus here on just the words that stood out for me. Also, my words may be a little disjointed at times. What follows is not a thesis, but a simple conversation with God.

Thus says the Lord: Hold it right there, Lord. I see great power in these four little words. It’s Isaiah’s way of saying, “Listen up, people.” (I’m a people!) “The Lord has something important to say to you”… That’s why I’m praying with these words today, my Lord. I’m listening for something–anything–you might be saying to me today in this passage.

In a time of favor: Let me stop there again, God. Isn’t every time a time of favor? My faith and experience tell me there is no time when you cannot pour your love and grace down upon us… upon me! In good times and bad… when things are going my way…and NOT! When I have clarity of vision and when I’m inching my way in the fog...anytime, every time can be a time of your favor.

You, God, are my shelter in the storm… (photo by Eberhard Grossgasteiger – Pexels)

In a time of favor I answer you. I hate to quibble with you, my Beloved One, but I don’t always hear you answering me… Or maybe (if I’m more honest) your answer is not the answer I want to hear, so I close my ears… Or maybe your answer does not come in words at all, but in silence… at least for now. And your silence demands humble waiting from me… or simple trusting… And, as you know very well, God, I am not always good at waiting or trusting. You can blame that on my Creator! (hee! hee!)

You, Loving God, are THE Great Restorer… (Restorers Evan Thomas and Keith Bynum with real estate agent Shea Hicks-Whitfield from the TV series “Bargain Block” on HGTV.)

On the day of salvation I help you; and I have kept you and given you a covenant to the people, to restore the land… Restore… Let’s stop there for a moment. So you, my gracious God, are a restorer. In fact you are THE Great Restorer! How consoling is that? I watch HGTV sometimes (as you know) and I love to see these two guys in Detroit take a falling-apart old house (roof caving in, floor boards missing, windows broken, foundation in need of repair) and transform it into a beautiful new affordable home for some lucky family. Slowly, they’re restoring those neighborhoods one house at a time. I’ve learned from them that it’s much harder to restore an old home than to build a new one from scratch. An old house sets limitations. It also evokes greater creativity and ingenuity on the part of the restorer. And creativity and ingenuity are two of your strong suits, dear Lord. With any restoration project, so much painstaking work is involved. But that’s you, dear God. You restore our souls painstakingly!

Saying to the prisoners, Come out! When I read these words I see images of individuals being released from prison–those who had been in prison 10, 20, 30 years–especially those sentenced for a crime they didn’t commit! What joy is on their faces… tears… hugs from family and friends. Or, I see images of the Allied forces in WW II freeing the prisoners in those awful, awful death camps… The prisoners look like walking skeletons, too weak even to rejoice. That’s how your love is ready to free all of us, dear Lord, even me. Wow! Please free me from habits and attitudes that imprison me and restrict my true freedom as a child of God.

To those in darkness, Show yourselves! What are some of the darknesses I need to be freed from, God? The darkness of fear… ignorance… pain… the feeling of abandonment… my past injuries… the lies that masquerade as truth… my personal shame… my hopelessness. Where do I start?… Where do we start, Lord?

Loving God, you are my GPS… (Photo by Ingo Joseph – Pexels)

Along the way they shall find pasture… They shall not hunger or thirst… God, I thank you for the nourishment you have given me throughout my life… the nourishment of Mom and Dad and my precious siblings.. the nourishment of growing up on a small farm… of a good education… of the Sisters of Notre Dame… the nourishment of daily scripture and Mass… the many courses I’ve taken, the retreats I’ve been privileged to make and lead, the countless books I’ve read…the nourishment of the people I have been honored to serve and those who served along side of me… and especially the nourishment of my friends… God, there is no end to the nourishment you provide for us along our earthly journey! How lucky and blessed we are… and I’ve been.

Nor shall the scorching wind or sun strike them. Beloved One, you are my shelter… my shield… I take refuge in your presence and love throughout all my days and nights.

For he who pities them leads them and guides them. God, you are my GPS! always pointing me in the right direction. And when I stray, help me to recalibrate my steps that lead back to you and to my final home.

I will cut a road through all my mountains and make my highways level. Beloved one, you’re a civil engineer too! How crazy is that? You always clear the way before me whether with a bulldozer, a machete, or one of my good friends.

Can parents forget their child? (Photo by Danik Prihodka – Pexels)

Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? We know that the answer to that question is sometimes (tragically, sadly) yes, she can. And we know that men too can forget the children they have fathered. But that doesn’t negate all the countless men and women who have welcomed children into their lives and have done the hard, hard 24/7 work of being a good parent. I thank you, God, for all of them! I thank you also for those individuals who display a strong maternal/paternal instinct toward our young whether they have children of their own or not.

Even should she forget, I will never forget you. Really God? Never? Even when I forget you? How precious are these words to me. They mean you can never un-remember me, or un-remember us! You can never ask, “Who are you again?” You can never lose sight of us! You can never stop loving us–because that’s who you are: Love. Simple and beautiful and eternal love!


Reflection questions:

Did any words or phrases stand out for you in today’s reflection?

Would you add anything?

PS: Last week’s video was “I’ve got Joy!” By King and Country. An alert reader (Sr. Renetta) called my attention to the website for St. Dominic Church in Shaker Heights, OH. Their kids sang this song at the end of their Mass on Friday April 26–and they sang it with motions! It’s wonderful! Go to the parish website, click on live streaming Masses, and click on the Mass for April 26. It’s the final song for the Mass.

Today’s song is “I Will Never Forget You, My People,” written by Carey Landry. It is sung here by the Sunday 7 p.m. Choir.

I invite you to comment below on anything in today’s reflection. We love hearing from you!

15 Responses

  1. Good morning, Sr. Melannie…
    Good morning, all…

    You have shown us a beautiful, honest, and authentic way to pray with the Word of God. It is a living Word and we dwell in the land of the living, and so what better way to immerse ourselves in God’s holy Word than to have a conversation with it. Thank you for sharing yours! As mentioned, it is beautiful, honest, and authentic. We Benedictines might call this Lectio Divina. We read the Word and wait for a word or phrase to emerge, to speak to us. We see it as God’s word for us.

    The words, “To those in darkness,/Show yourselves,” I read as a call for all who feel as if they cannot live their authentic lives, and so they live in the shadows, fearful that people — even loved ones — will not accept them. But our great God seems to be assuring them otherwise.

    1. I love your last paragraph – ‘a call for all who feel as if they cannot live their authentic lives . . . but our great God seems to be assuring them otherwise.’
      God always loves us, and teaches us to love ourselves – after all, we wouldn’t be here if God didn’t need us to be ourselves.
      Thank you, Margaret

  2. I was introduced to Lectio Divina this Lent at our parish. What an enlightening way to pray. Thank you for sharing your conversations with God. It helps put into perspective an honest as well as a respectful way each and every day.

  3. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path”….
    The Lord has blessed you..
    And has blessed us..
    Thank you

  4. Happy feast of St. Catherine!
    Melannie, thanks for following in her footsteps as a woman prayer leader/teacher.
    The praying with Isaiah piece is a helpful tool for slowing down scripture reading. Actually praying into rather getting it over with.
    What touches me is the section about the painstaking restoration that our Designer/Builder does with creativity and ingenuity. How I need that overhaul!

  5. I thought I knew how to pray Lectio Divina but you have opened a whole new doorway for me. I intersperse my thoughts and needs into the words of scripture is fantastic. Thank you so much.
    I read your blogs every week, but this is the first time I have commented. However they have all been gems.
    Sue Ziegler

  6. “You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

    You have put your whole heart into this prayer, Sister, and we all gain insight. Thanks

  7. Isn’t it amazing and mind boggling that no matter where we are, wherever we go, whatever we do or forget to do, God never leaves us. Thank you for your personal, thoughtful reflection and sharing the moving song. It’s one of my favorites.

  8. Gees, Melannie! This is one of my favorites and you and the timeliness of your post made it even more meaningful. I was in a car wreck last week and I wasn’t hurt except it was traumatic. So your prayer and your sharing is helping immensely. A friend of mine told me to go to the location of the wreck and just sit there and breath in and breathe out, breathe in and breathe out. I believe I will also take your thoughts and prayers along with me as well.
    Thanks again! Glad you didn’t get lost in the wide expanse of KS!


  9. Hello Sr. Melanie,
    Here are the words that stood out for me. They are your words
    Please free me from habits and attitudes that imprison me and restrict my true freedom as a child of God.
    I never looked at it this way. My own habits and attitudes are limiting me? It is so true! Thank you for sharing that insight. I have more work to do.
    Good bless you!

  10. Good afternoon. This prayer is exactly what I needed after this weekend when I have been so angry with God about parents forgetting and abandoning their children. I just kept saying why would you do this?. This has brought the reminder home that we are God’s and he will NEVER abandon us. I need to remember that God can and will rebuild us too. I need to remember “I don’t know what the day holds, but I know Who holds the day”. Thank you Sr. Melannie!

  11. I often talk to myself and to God asking how to pray with the word of God. What you have prayed conversation with God is some thing I hope to adopt. I read the Scriptures. Now I have a way to pray them. Thank you, Melanie.

  12. you have given me so much to think about, to pray about….and at a time i most especially need to hear your words…thank you

  13. My heart responded to your comment about it being more difficult restoring old houses vs building new ones. It gave me insight into my trying to become a new person in our Lord. Yes, I can see now how difficult it is working within the limitations of a house that has undergone decay and destruction, yet in the
    hands of a master crafter, the possibilities are endless. How hopeful is that! Thank you for sharing this with us.

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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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