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Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Sunflower Seeds

Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

A Visit to My “Memory Storage Locker”

I rummaged through my “memory storage locker” in my head recently and found these three little stories to share with you today:

The Babysitter’s Mite

I used to babysit quite a bit growing up. I earned 50 cents an hour back then. One Saturday evening when I was about 13, I babysat three kids from 7:00 to 1:00. Six hours times 50 cents would be $3.00. But the couple was generous and gave me a crisp new five dollar bill. I was pleased as I tucked it into my jacket pocket. I was already contemplating what I could use it for. The next morning I wore that same jacket to Church. At Mass we had a guest homilist, a priest who served in a faraway mission somewhere. He vividly described the poverty in his mission and the work he and others were doing. I was deeply moved. After he spoke, our pastor said that the second collection would be given entirely to Father and his mission. I wanted to give a dollar or two, but all I had was that five dollar bill. When the collection basket came along, what did I do? I tossed the bill into the basket. As I did, I felt a little regret, but then my regret gradually eased, and I thought, “That was the right thing to do.”

The widow’s mite comes in many denominations and in many forms. It simply means: giving all (photo by conttonbro – Pexels)


What’s Wrong with God

As a writer of books, I seldom get written feedback from readers. So if my publisher ever forwards me a letter from one of my readers, I get excited. One day my publisher forwarded a letter from a reader in another state. It was brief: “Dear Sister Melannie, Your reflection #64 in Everyday Epiphanies changed my life. I just wanted you to know. Thank you.” And he signed his name. Of course, I wondered, “What in the world did I write there?!” So I got out the book and read reflection #64 (It’s reflection #45 in the 2013 edition of the book). Here’s what I wrote:

Sometimes I say to God, “You know what’s wrong with you?”

And God asks, “What?”

And I begin to enumerate: “You love too indiscriminately… You trust people way too much… You’re far too forgiving… And you’re entirely too patient!”

Having said that, I invite God to tell me what’s wrong with me. But all I hear God say is, “You know, Honey, I really get a kick out of you!”

Which only proves my point.

God says to each of us, “Be mine.” Or better yet, God says, “You are already mine!” (Photo by Monstera – Pexels)


The Candy Bar Story

This true story comes from my teaching days. In the late 70s, I was teaching at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh where I had a pretty heavy schedule. I was also put in charge of the school’s candy bar drive that year. I asked some of my students to help distribute the boxes of candy, to record how many boxes each student requested and sold, and to count the money. At the end of the two weeks, when the records were tallied, we had made a decent profit to benefit the school. Everyone was happy including our new principal, Sister St. Colette. But about a month or so later, she called me into her office and handed me a brown envelope mailed to her. There was no return address. “I think you should see this,” she said. When I opened the envelope I found not only a note, but also about $40 in cash. The hand-printed note said this: “Here’s the money I stole from the candy bar drive. I’m sorry I took it. Please pray that we all can learn from our mistakes and do the right thing.”

We never learned who the student was. But his or her change of heart had a deep impact on me and my teaching. Throughout my years in the classroom, whenever I became disheartened by some of the poor choices a few of my students were making, I always remembered this particular student and reminded myself, “At times kids will make poor choices. But sometimes they will learn from them and choose to do the better thing, the right thing.”

Do we give others and ourselves another chance to make a better choice? (Photo by vie studio – Pexels)

Did any of these stories speak to you today?

Have you ever had similar experiences?

Is there a story from your “memory storage locker” that you would like to share with us below?

Our Christian tradition says there are basically four types of prayer: praising God, asking for help, giving thanks, and asking for forgiveness. Today’s video is the song “I’m Sorry” by Toby Mac. It is a lament, that is, a prayer that asks for forgiveness. In this song Mac recounts how, in the past, we Christians sometimes did terrible things in God’s name. We went astray from Jesus’ call to give and to love. At times we Christians were (and are!) complicit in some grave injustices. In this song we ask God’s forgiveness for any wrong we have done as individuals, as a Church, as a nation. And we beg: “Wake us up, Lord! Wake us up…”

PS: Thursday, November 11 is Veterans’ Day, a federal holiday here in the U.S. dedicated to all who have served or are currently serving in the Armed Forces. To honor this day, I’m offering the video below. It’s Tim McGraw’s “If You’re Reading This.” It features one veteran, Frankie Phillips, who didn’t make it home from Afghanistan. As someone said, “You can’t appreciate the ocean unless you appreciate a single drop of water.” So too, you can’t appreciate the toll of war unless you appreciate a single member of the Armed Forces. Let us pray for all of our veterans, especially those who didn’t come home and those who returned with devastating wounds that need our love and care…

I invite you to write a comment below. My other readers (and I!) always enjoy hearing from you!

13 Responses

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

    Thank you for sharing those stories, Sr. Melannie! All three of them show God working in various ways.

    Okay, so in September of 1992, I was meeting one of my classes for the first time. I asked them if they had ever read a book that made them see the world differently. I told them I had just read A Prayer for Owen Meaney by John Irving. I remember gushing and raving about the book, said it had on the most perfect endings of any book I had ever read (I still think this!). One of my students, Paula, was new to the school and a little shy. She didn’t want to answer my initial question aloud in front of her new classmates, but after class she approached me and told me that she too had read Irving’s book and loved it.

    But that’s not the end of the story. About ten years later I get an email from her. She kindly reintroduces herself to me, recounts the above story, and proceeds to tell me that she and her now husband met and bonded over the same book! Huzzah!

    Hope everyone has a great week!

  2. Sr. Melannie and everyone, hello!

    What’s Wrong with God resonates most deeply. I intend highest praise when I say it’s very Rachel Held Evans-like!

    John, nice story about Owen Meany. The book has been highly recommended to me, but I fear my novel-reading stamina is non-existent! I get at most 30% through a work of fiction, and I just give up.

    In lieu of reacting to a song, might I recommend a song? “Kind and Generous” by Natalie Merchant. It’s all about the gratitudes. I recommend especially the VH1 Live performance from 2005 where Merchant gives a brief and winsome intro to the song. (Who knows? It might even appear here as a song of the week in the future!)

    OK, I’m off in a bit to the (as it’s affectionately called) People’s Republic (Cambridge, MA) for a Friendly Gathering. Peace and light, everyone. Take good care.

    P.S.: I’m loving the early daylight that the time-change has given us! For instance, this morning, the sun rose at the crack of dawn! Amazing when that happens!

    1. Thank you for writing, Tom. You may always recommend a song! I’ve added it to my long list of songs to use in the future. Yes, it’s nice having the sun rise earlier… but I dread the way it sets earlier and earlier too… (sigh!) Melannie

  3. Good morning to you all,

    I’m not certain that this is really what you’re asking for, but it is a memory that bubbled up when I read your blog this morning and so I’m going to share. I am recalling this memory as a 77 year old great-grandma about my 13 year old self. In 9th grade I had a Civics teacher named Mr. Piper who I believed did not like me and thus gave me unfair grades…..I was convinced of it and told anyone willing to listen about my unfair treatment, wanting them to be on my side.

    So for Lent that year, I decided to give up saying unkind things about Mr. Piper….no lamenting or sulking about Civics class. Well, miracle of miracles, Mr. Piper was “changed” during that 6 weeks period……he no longer disliked me and my grades improved…..imagine that!!

    The thing that strikes me so about this is the fact that I had the determination to “give up” speaking badly about someone and thus left the ill feelings behind. My “giving up” really changed me in a profound way.

    I loved your memories, S. Melannie……they always encourage reflection.

    Happy Monday,

    1. Dear Mary, I enjoyed your story! It’s amazing how our change in attitude can have a positive influence on another person or a situation. Yes, your Lenten penance was a really good one! Thanks for writing! Melannie

  4. Thanks so much for the song for the military. I’ve eight nieces and nephews in the various Arms Forces five still on active duty all around
    the world. I thank God daily for their safety thus far and pray they remain
    so. I’m really so proud of their courage and generosity.

  5. Dear Sr. Melannie,
    I cried when I watched the video about the fallen soldier. It brought back the morning I was laundering diapers at my mother-in-law’s when a military car pulled into the driveway. (Her 19 yr. old son, Jerry, was in the Marines and had just been deployed to Vietnam.) I remember watching as the two officers got out of the car and took that long walk to the kitchen door. We knew why they were there but time seemed to stand still. I remember his mother answering the door and hearing them say, “Mam, we regret to inform you…..” Fortunatly, my brother-in-law survived his serious injuries but he was never the same.
    I also have a multitude of good memories, the first being my Dad taking me and carrying my three old sister up the steps of the trestle in our little town of Castleton, IN, as Truman and his wife and daughter stood on the back of a slow moving train. He was on his way to Indianapolis to give a campaign speech and Daddy just wanted us to see a President.
    The second is of my grandma taking me by bus to downtown Indianapolis to see, “The Bells of St. Mary’s” for my 6th birthday. My grandmother was almost blind and wouldn’t even be able to see the movie. She just wanted to give me a special gift.❤️

    1. Dear Jean, All three of your memories are beautiful. Your first one really moved me. I can’t imagine what it was like to see those two officers get out of that car… And how thoughtful your Dad was to have you share in his respect for one of our presidents… and your dear grandmother… how much joy she must have received from doing this lovely little treat for you… Isn’t it amazing how many good memories we manage to hang on to for our entire lives? Thanks for sharing yours with us, Jean! Melannie

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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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