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Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Sunflower Seeds

Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Praying with Works of Art

We are all falling… but We Are Being Held (“This painting was inspired by a sculpture entitled ‘The Angel of the Resurrection’ by Walker Hancock.“)


In my book, The Grace of Beauty, I write “Beauty can affect us in many ways. It can stop us in its tracks, lighten our heart, calm our anxiety, ease our pain, move us to tears… Beauty even has the power to draw us to the ultimate source of all beauty, our Creating God.” With that thought in mind, I want to direct your attention today to the beautiful art work of a local artist (and friend), Pat Firem. And, after you view some of her works, I’m hoping you might be drawn to praying with one of them.

Ukrainian Mother (“This painting hopefully evokes feelings about the fragility of life in a country at war. It was inspired by William Bourgereau’s ‘Mother and Child.'”)


Pat, 77, is a retired licensed psychologist who has called Geauga County “home” since 1974. She began her “art career” as a child “with a box of 24 Crayola crayons.” In sixth grade she took a summer drawing class at the Cleveland Art Museum, and has been “dabbling in the visual arts ever since.” Many of her artworks have a spiritual theme. She says, “I find that art and spirituality come from the same shared space within me.” She adds, “As a psychologist, I know these realms (of our creative selves and spiritual selves) lie close to each other in the brain.” Pat says she is not a professionally trained artist, but she has benefited from other gifted artists along the way. Her oil painting teacher, for example, is Sister Maresa Lilley, SND, whom I featured on my blog on July 17, 2022. Some of Pat’s artwork draw upon the works of well-known artists for the subjects. She explains, “These paintings are not slavish copies, but tributes to the artists who inspired them. Each classical artist is carefully acknowledged.”

Christ Pantocrator, Sinai (“Based on a sixth Century icon. One mysterious feature: the unevenly matched eyes of Christ. One appears to gaze outward, the other inward.”)


I was impressed by the wide variety of mediums in which Pat works: watercolor, oil, pencil, charcoal, colored inks, eggshell mosaics, photography, and mixed media. When I asked which was her favorite, she said, “Right now, it is oil painting and charcoal. Ask me in a few minutes, and it might shift. I like to explore!” I am posting here several of her art pieces, with a few of her words about each piece. I suggest you focus on one for a few minutes and pray with it. You might begin by reflecting on questions such as these: What draws you to this particular work?… How does it make you feel?… What details do you notice?… Does it “say” anything to you?… What do you like about it?… Does anything in it move you?… Is there anything you would like to say to the subject(s) in the painting, to the painting itself, or even to God as you view this artwork?

World without End (“This collage was done with circles of cheese cloth painted with Mod Podge… We hope our inhabitable world is not shrinking, as this collage suggests.”)
On the Way Home from Church (“Inspired by Thomas Hart Benton’s ‘Romance,’ I saw two people leaving church in their 1930’s Sunday best, with enjoyment and dignity in their steps.”
Candles at Fatima photograph (“In Fatima, I saw rows and rows of candles in the outdoor prayer area. Would that our candles become prayers, and our prayers become symbols of peace that would light up the world.”)
Artist Pat Firem


If you are interested in seeing more of Pat’s work or to get information about purchasing one of her pieces, just email her: [email protected]. The following quote really speaks to Pat and her art work–and it really spoke to me too. Writes Russ Ramsey, author of Rembrandt Is in the Wind: “By light we do our work. By that same light, others behold it. And all the light is borrowed from God…”




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P.S. I have two upcoming presentations in April: Thursday, April 4 I’ll be speaking at the First Friday Club in Youngstown, OH. My topic is “Mary: One of Us and Woman of Hope.” The event includes luncheon at the Avion on the Water Banquet Center in Canfield, OH followed by my talk. Check the First Friday Club of Youngstown website for details.

The second event is a retreat from April 14-19 sponsored by the Heartland Center for Spirituality in Great Bend, Kansas. You can make the retreat at the Center or via zoom from wherever you are. The theme is “The Power and Mystery of God’s Extravagant Grace.” I’ll give two conferences each day via zoom. Check their website for details. I hope to see some of you at these events! I always enjoy meeting “real readers” of this blog!

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Speaking of artists like Pat firem, I found a new musical artist. Her name is Anne Trenning and she’s described as an “instrumental pianist.” She believes that “music is an otherworldly blessing.” Her music, it is said, “reflects her classical training and her love for new age, Gospel, Celtic, jazz, classic rock, and folk.” She collaborates with other musicians and artists to produce these lovely videos. This one is called “A Prayer for the World.” In this time of war and unrest in our world, let us pray these simple words, reminding ourselves that “we are all one.” Hopefully Trenning’s music and the images of nature will draw us to celebrate THE Master Artist, our Creating God.



I encourage you to share your thoughts, your comments, your prayers below….about the words of the reflection, the art works themselves–including the music video…

13 Responses

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

    Today’s blog has made your words on beauty very real. My heart was lightened, my anxiety calmed, my pain eased; I was stopped in my tracks, and I was brought to tears. Where do I begin?

    Pat’s artwork is provocative, arresting, eclectic, topical, and beautiful. The first one we see, the angel holding us — Wow! Sometimes we forget about angels, the ones that guard us and the ones of our better nature. We so need them now. “World Without End” made me think of human cells — how we have “worlds without end” within us. And “Ukrainian Mother”! Heartbreaking. As we read in Anne Trenning’s lovely instrumental, “War is wrong.”

    One last thing: I like what Pat says about the creative and spiritual areas of the brain being so close. So true!

  2. All of her art work is beautiful but I especially like the one “on the way home from Church. She definitely has a beautiful talent. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thank you for highlighting Pat’s work. She is truly a gifted artist as well as a dear person whom I am privileged to call my friend.
    I could feel the heat as the Angel gently lifts us up. Art is created by the soul, I believe.
    The video was wonderful and so calming. What beautiful gifts these woman have shared.
    Thank you

  4. My husband and I watched “Oppenheimer” last night. Pat Firem’s work is an antidote to the feelings I was left with after that film. The lessons in Oppenheimer cannot be ignored, but the lessons in Pat Firem’s works are everlasting.

  5. Beautiful art by Pat Ferim, evoked a lot of thought about gifts and talents. God blesses each one of us with something to share. Thanks for sharing hers with us. And the video & music moved me deeply as well. War IS wrong and I pray every day that the tragedy and destruction in Ukraine, Gaza, Sudan and everywhere life isn’t valued will end & God’s peace will prevail.

  6. Today’s video was vert special. Cerainly pray for all that it presented.

    The portrait of Christ was very moving.

    Sylvia

  7. I am so glad I am receiving Sunflower Seeds again! Each issue is like a wake up call.
    Love the reminder to appreciate all natures gifts. Yes, we are all one but when will we come to live like it.
    Praying for peace as constantly as possible is my hope.
    Thank you again for your positive nudges.

  8. The video ends with an image of a sunflower. It’s the perfect conclusion to your blog today!

    In the book of Genesis the first thing revealed about God is that He is The Creator. And as He made man in His image, we have the joy of being creative, making things in a variety of artistic expressions that didn’t exist before. I love that our lives are enriched by one another’s talents and gifts.

  9. Love the angel holding the person. Looks like she is kissing the top of the person’s head. Our angels are a “kiss from God.” That gentleness is what I have experienced whenever I’ve talked to Pat Firem. Thank you, Melannie, for that memory – I needed it today.

  10. I like meditating while looking at a piece of artwork. Currently I view a piece of artwork that coincides with the Mass readings for the day. The site is Christian Art, curated by a priest. I get it daily in my email. I loved the video today. Thank you.

  11. Hi Sister,
    Art always helped me meditate and having Sr Maresa as a friend for years helped as well!
    I’m reading this while waiting to see the cardiologist. As I look at those around me and read from the opening painting—we are falling, but we are held— to feel so supported and loved. I hope those around me do as well.
    The face of Christ looking both inwards and outwards was very interesting. How does something imperfect look so perfect?
    Thanks for sharing Pat’s gifted works that speaks wonders. And the added art of music once again to the heart. It brought back my grandfather, and father’s gifts of piano and my ability to share as well.

    With appreciation,

  12. Thank you, Sister Melannie, for resonating so well with my artwork, and for your encouragement. All artists need someone like yourself to believe in the power of art to touch the world in some way. Your power of the pen included!
    Pat

  13. Thanks for sharing such intriguing art pieces in this blog, Melannie. I am really drawn to “World Without End,” but the one that continues to speak to me is “We Are All Falling…” Pat is truly gifted!

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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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