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Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Sunflower Seeds

Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Three Pictures and a Video

Today’s blog consists of three pictures and a video. I thought all of them might delight and inspire you. I’ll tell the story behind each picture. Here’s picture #1:

Here is a picture of a sunflower plant growing in the vegetable garden in our main courtyard. (Special thanks to Sister Anne Marie for taking the picture!) Isn’t the plant magnificent and incredible? It has one stalk with about 15 sunflowers on it! I am 5′ 5″ but, as you can see, this plant dwarfs me! Here’s the story told to me by one of our gardening sisters, Sister Kathleen. Several sisters started this small garden in the courtyard. They planted peppers, melons, tomatoes, etc. But after a little while they noticed two sunflowers growing in the garden—sunflowers they did NOT plant. (Sister Louray insists that a chipmunk planted them!)

The gardeners decided to let the two sunflowers grow. In fact, they even “nurtured” them a little. And amazingly, both plants flourished. (The other one is tall too, but much shorter than this one. And it has only one large flower on it.) I think there are some lessons here about life, don’t you? About life being full of surprises… about OUR carefully ordered plans and how sometimes God seems to intervene with something amazing… How we plant the seeds, but God gives the growth… How often in life we get much more out of things than we invested in them… How we are called to nurture the living things around us—even those we may not have “planted”… And how those fifteen sunflowers at the top all receive their life and nourishment through that thick stalk. It recalls Jesus’ words, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” In this picture Jesus might be saying to us, “I am your stalk, and you are my sunflowers!”

Here is picture #2:

A friend was showing me some pictures on her smart phone. Suddenly this photo came up. I was fascinated by it. She explained where she had taken it. There’s a small town (population 10,000) in northeast Ohio called Louisville—in Stark County on route 44 near Canton. This work of art is entitled “Umbrella Alley.” It consists of over 200 brightly colored umbrellas suspended in one of the alleys in the heart of the downtown. The lead artist was Jeffrey Keirns. The art work was part of a project to bring people together from the Tri-State area and to welcome them to this small town. Chairs and benches line the alley, encouraging people to pick up some food, sit, and eat lunch while taking pleasure in the art. I imagine little kids (and BIG kids like you and me!) would enjoy this experience. The display is open 24/7 and it’s FREE. For more information, check out “Umbrella Alley” on the city’s various social media accounts

Picture #3:

I came across this picture while I was looking for something else. It immediately caught my attention. Maybe that’s because I LOVE fruit. In fact, I don’t think I ever met a piece of fruit I didn’t like! Gaze at the picture for a moment… Notice the berries, as in straw, blue, rasp, and black… Behold the array of citrus too: lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit… Then there’s the kiwi cut in such a way as to showcase its hidden interior beauty… And don’t overlook the pineapple, mango, and peaches! A display of fruit like this leads me to spontaneously thank our Creator God for all the nutritious and distinctive treats God has provided for us for our time on our beautiful earth… Do you have a favorite fruit?

Did you like any of these pictures? Do you know why?

What sights or events have delighted or inspired you lately?

What gifts do you thank Our Creator for on a regular basis?

And now, here’s our video. As it often happens, I came upon this video while looking for something else. It’s called “57 Years Apart.” The subtitle is “a boy and a man talk about life.” I hope you enjoy it. It might inspire you to sit down and have a similar conversation with a child or grandchild. (The video has closed captions too. Just put the video on full screen to read them. Also, at the end of this video, you’ll see a similar one with a little girl and a woman. Just click it if you’re interested.)

Now it’s your turn. I invite you to respond to anything in today’s blog. I love to hear from you!

13 Responses

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

    Three amazing photos! The second two connecting to the first in that you found them while looking for something else!

    The first one evoked a memory of my dear sister Zita, who died at the age of 64 in 2016. She loved gardening, and she really loved Black-eyed Susans, so much so that she insisted we have some to grow in our yard. We accepted her botanical offering, planted them, but, alas, they didn’t take, didn’t grow — which is incredible because they seem to grow anywhere and everywhere!

    About a year after she died, my wife and I were tending to a garden in another part of our yard, and I noticed a clump of Black-eyed Susans starting to bloom. “When did you plant these?” I asked Kerry. Her reply: “I didn’t. That’s Zita.” Our first try proved a failure, but evidently their seeds get around (maybe a chipmunk?), and some got around to the other side of our yard. Zita’s offering of beauty finally came to fruition!

  2. Love the photos. We planted sunflower seeds in the community where I live and now have a beautiful sunflower field to see each day.

    My favorite part of today’s reflection was the video. So touching! Made me cry

  3. Thank you for especially sharing the three beautiful photos, Sister! The statement in the first photo, “about OUR carefully ordered plans and how sometimes God seems to intervene with something amazing…” is so, so true! The Umbrella Alley photo touched me as well! As for the fruit tray photo, I love fruit, especially the summer ones like watermelon and honeydew melon.

    Have a blessed week!!!

    Rhode Island

  4. Jesus is our Son flower……He came …grew…showered us with His love…and light…
    The Son flower died….
    The Son flower rose…now always there for us to gaze at each other…

  5. Sister Melannie, you have a special way of using ordinary things to teach others about God. I liked the sunflower photo and accompanying comments best, but enjoyed the other photos and video as well. As I get older I realize that many things are out of my control and that the best way to find peace within myself is to embrace the surprises, seeing God’s work in my life even in the disappointments. I too enjoy nurturing surprise plants that come up in my native plant garden. Violets have been a favorite from childhood. I have many growing in my yard and flower beds, but not one of them was planted by me.

  6. A song I once learned: “ Like a sunflower that follows every movement of the sun, so I turn to you, to follow You, My God”.

  7. Dear Sr. Melannie,
    I loved the pictures….especially you with the sunflower. I have never planted one that had more than 1 blossom!
    I swim every morning. At one end of my pool is a grow box full of milkweed and busy Monarchs. At the other end is a Hibiscus. I’ve noticed recently that it takes a bud two or three days to fully blossom but that blossom has only one day to live life to the fullest….and it does. (If only we could follow it’s example.) It takes a couple of days to fully wither and die. Kind of reminds me of our lifespan in fast forward. I am journaling a lot on the Hibiscus and what it might have to teach us.
    My favorite fruit are blackberries. I grew up in rural Indiana where they grew abundantly In the wild. They are difficult and uncomfortable to pick due to heat, briars and chiggers. My mother used to say that the blackberry patch was the only place she could really be alone because it would take an emergency for a child to look for her! (I was a mother myself before I understood that statement.) Blackberries are the only fruit I would go to that much trouble to eat.
    Thank you for today’s blog!

  8. Melannie,

    This is the first time I have commented on your blog, though I follow it religiously every Monday.
    It’s the picture of the fruit that I liked especially because in my spiritual tradition (Byzantine Catholic) we bless fruit on the Feast of Transfiguration in thanksgiving for the harvest (which can also include veggies). It’s a beloved Feast and one of my favorites. Coincidentally, or not, two classes which I taught at our Academy many years ago sent me an “Edible Fruit Basket” in honor of my 70th Anniversary as a Sister of St. Basil. So, as you noted so well–and often– God is full of surprises. Your blog and this gift was among the ones I have received over many years.
    Thanks be to God!
    Sister Margaret K. osbm

  9. Sister Melanie, as always you inspire and teach of God’s generosity and beauty! Being from the Sunflower State of Kansas, I loved the magnificent sunflower plant with 15 blossoms! My husband and I moved to a retirement community in 2020. This is our second summer here. We have a small flower bed that had some flowers planted by the previous owner. Last summer I pulled out two plants that I thought were weeds. They came back this spring. I decided to let them grow to see what they are. They both have spread. One is blooming delicate white ground cover flowers. The other seeded about 10 additional plants with vibrant yellow flowers that resemble zinnias. What a blessing they are and what beauty they add to the flower bed! And the fruit arrangement is so expressive of God’s tenderness, playfulness and creativity. Such variety, color and texture. Strawberries have been extremely good in Kansas this year. I recently sliced one in half from top to bottom and to my utter delight, I saw a heart outline in the center. I discovered there is a heart shape in every strawberry if it is sliced that way. I have a picture of Jesus on my counter and I looked at him and thanked him. That day and every day I slice strawberries, Jesus looks at me and smiles! Thank you for being YOU, Sister Melanie! You are a treasure!

  10. Good morning to all,

    This all was so charming and I thank God regularly for the blue sky, the trees (of which there is an abundance in our Michigan city) the flowering bushes and trees….sometimes feeling like twirling around in the grass with my arms wide open, as in “The Sound of Music”, thanking God for all I have and am.

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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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