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Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Sunflower Seeds

Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Traveling in Good Company

When we cleaned out my sister’s apartment, we divided up her belongings. One item my sister had was a statue of Mary. This was no ordinary statue. It was quite large—over 3 feet tall. It had been given to my maternal grandmother when my mother, her first child, was born in 1915. My mother treasured the statue because it was a direct link to the mother she never knew, the mother who died shortly after the birth of her second child when my mother was only two.

(source: Aktim: Pixabay)

We had grown up with this statue of Mary in our house. It had stood on a small wooden table in one of the bedrooms or later in the living room. I remember, as a child, putting flowers in front of the statue: daffodils, lilacs, or roses that grew in our yard.

But now, none of my sister’s children wanted the statue. I couldn’t blame them. Who wants such a huge statue in their house these days? My nieces and nephews thought: Surely I, the nun, would want to have it, right?

Well, not exactly. But I said I would take the statue to our provincial center. They might find a place for it there. More likely they would give or sell it to someone who collects religious items, such as statues and crucifixes, and refurbishes them.

Mary was too heavy for me to carry, so my nephew Chris hoisted her up and lugged her out to my car. My trunk and back seat were already filled with other “stuff” I was going to try to find a home for, so Chris stood the statue on the front passenger seat. He gently buckled Mary in with the seat belt. Then he wrapped a bungee cord around her and the seat to secure her even more. “Try not to make any sudden stops,” he cautioned.

I began my sixty-mile journey home with Mary in the passenger seat of my car. As I drove along, I glanced over at her every now and then just to be sure she was okay. There she was standing stiffly—with perfect posture—on the seat next to me. The palms of her hands were pressed together in front of her with her fingers pointing straight up to heaven. Mary was in full prayer mode the whole way. (Maybe she didn’t trust my driving!)

I wondered what other drivers thought as they passed me or pulled up next to me at a stop light. Maybe they were tempted to yell, “Hey, Lady, they make smaller ones, you know! Ones that fit on the dashboard!”

I didn’t go to our provincial center for two days. During that time Mary rode around town with me as I did a few errands. She went with me to pick up a prescription at the pharmacy. (I decided not to use the drive-thru this time.) While I pumped gas at the gas station, Mary stayed in the car, praying. Eventually I dropped her off at our provincial center. The last time I saw her, she was lying on her back on a cart as one of our workmen was slowly pushing her down the hall. She was still praying. (I thought, “That woman prays 24/7!”)

Who journeys with us down the road of life? (Source: Steveorini: Pixabay)

This little episode with the Mary statue got me thinking. As Christians, we believe we don’t walk through life alone. We believe God walks beside us every step of the way. (Some people like to think of God as their co-pilot. But I like the old maxim that says, “If God is your co-pilot, switch seats!”) We also believe in what is called “The Communion of Saints,” that is, our oneness with the whole body of believers which includes canonized and un-canonized saints. We also believe our deceased loved ones are somehow very present to us in mysterious ways, and that the bonds of love we had with them during their life on earth persist even after their death.

Today might be a good day to give thanks for those individuals who accompany us on our earthly journey—individuals divine and human (and angelical!), canonized and un-canonized, living and deceased. Even a few minutes of reflection will make us realize: How lucky we are to be traveling in such good company!

In whose company do you walk through life?

The song is “You Will Never Walk Alone” from the musical Carousel, here sung by “The Celtic Women.” I remember when this musical first came out. It had some wonderful songs. This particular song doesn’t mention God specifically or those who have gone before us and who accompany us now. Yet it does speak of that great Christian virtue, HOPE:

Are you traveling through life in good company? If so, who? Would you be willing to share some of that company with us?

24 Responses

  1. I am traveling in very good company. My husband, Jack, and I have been married for almost 61 years and share the good times and the bad. He converted to Catholicism shortly after we were married. He became seriously ill in 1998 and when he was forced to retire on disability we began sharing a daily prayer life. Since a son’s arrest and subsequent imprisonment in 2001, we have shared not only our prayer life but a ministry to both inmates and their families. God has blessed both of us with a best friend who is also a good companion for the journey. For what more could we ask?

  2. Thank you, Sr.Melannie, for accompanying me on my earthly journey. I look forward to our time together every Monday. I know we have never met….but you have taught me so much. Thank you!!!!

  3. Sr Melannie,
    I so look forward to your wonderful words each week. I am grateful for so many people in my life and I count you as one walking the journey of life with me. You make me stop and think, thank you!

  4. Dear Sr. Melannie, I love this story about your Mary statue. I remember my fraternal grandmother had a beautiful St. Anthony statue when I was a child. I do not know what ever happened to it but I do know my grandmother (for whom I am named), is always with me.

  5. Sister Melanie, I just celebrated my 75th birthday and my reflection concentrated somewhat on missing my parents–who have been gone for quite a while. Your thoughts and the song definitely affirmed that yes I have been feeling their presence! Thank you. with love, Skip

  6. You gave me a smile this morning, picturing Mary sitting beside you. (I was afraid the story was going toward the “tie her on the roof” like they did in one of the Chevy Chase movies.) Glad she made the trip safely & hope she finds a new home with kids who will delight in having May crownings and processions with her. As a kid at NDES I loved the annual May crowning of the “bronze Mary” at your entryway.
    I pray daily for my Dad to walk beside me … and I know he does.

  7. Mary praying 24-7; that thought along with the visual of her praying you home will stay with me. How blessed are we to share such a wonderful Mother?

  8. What a wonderful visual of Mary on the passenger seat, hands in prayer.
    Isn’t is great that we can call on our Blessed Mother to be our co-pilot everyday, and have assurance that she is really there.
    I am 67 years old, and at age 16 purchased a 31/2 foot statue of Mary for my mom. Until her death at 84 yrs of age, that statue brought my mom and all 9 of us comfort through all phases of life.
    Your stories give me strength and comfort.
    Thank you Sister Melannie. You are a blessing!

  9. Most vintage statues are in little demand these days because they tend to appear dated to another age and style of devotion. All the more reason for each of us, blessed to be alive in this time and place, to realize that we are called to be images/icons through which God’s holiness and love can become visible and genuine in our secular world.

  10. Thanks for making me chuckle at the thought of Mary buckled beside you. I like to think that my parents continue to be with me during my earthly journey, although they have completed theirs.

  11. Thank you for making me chuckle as I picture Mary buckled on the seat next to you! I like to think that my parents continue to be with me on my earthly journey, even though they have completed theirs.

  12. Sister Melannie – What a beautiful story with so many facets! Several years ago, really 30 years, a dear friend brought me a large statue of Mary from Mexico. The gentleman who sold the statue to her wrapped it carefully in lots of brown paper and gave her instructions on how to take care of it while flying back to the midwest. Like your statue, Mary had her own seat on the plane and later in the car. Her seat belts were always fastened. My Mary statue was probably 28-30 inches tall. Thank you for bringing to mind another statue story.

  13. About a year or so ago I began thanking God for the special people He placed in my life (the art teacher who never said anything bad about anyone – the Sister who taught me much – friends – family members – and some people I have never met face to face, but who have left their grace upon my heart. I try to choose at least five a day, many of whom were my teaching family at SCS Catholic School whom I think have made me a better person. Thank you for being one of the Sister Melanie!

  14. Dear Sister Melannie, How blessed we are as Catholics to believe in and cherish our Communion of Saints. For me, they include my “Grandmother Litany.” This list of prayerful ladies has grown as family trees are searched out. Currently, as a grandmother of five, I feel a close bond to them. I know as I pray for the spiritual and temporal wellbeing of our family, my prayers are met with their understanding. Therefore, I pray through the intercession of Rose, Florence, Vienna, Lucia, Theresa, Barbara, Elizabeth, Barbara, Frances, Walburga, Viktoria, Mary, Marie, and Vera. Praise God. Amen.

  15. Another Barbara is heard from. And I so agree. I love the Communion of Saints and pray “among” them often. I so look forward to your Monday insights and also like to wait a day to see what others say about it. It makes for a introspective and joyous time for me. Thank all of you.

  16. Thank you, Sister. You brighten my Mondays! I loved this week such a blessing to have Mary riding in your front seat!

  17. My husband is my best friend. We have been married for 26 blessed years. We’ve had good and bad times. We raised 5 sons, the youngest is almost 20. We now have 3 grand children. Our “daughter” is joining the Church at the Easter vigil. We are so blessed.

  18. Thank you, Sister, for your reminders of how blessed we truly are…..our love of God, our richness of our faith and wonderful people like yourself who have dedicated their lives to help us grow and learn. Prayers and blessings to you for your health and joy that you so kindly spread.

  19. Sister,

    I love your stories. When I first pull up your information you looked like I knew you from somewhere. Last night I was talking to one of two of my best friends who is a Benedictine Sister and she told me you spent some time with them while going to school. I am a Benedictine Oblate and probably saw you out at the Monastery. I teased her and said that all the Sisters look alike. (Not true). I appreciate your reflections and usually look and listen to the wonderful music before I start my day at work. Thank you for that. Keep it coming for all of us who need that shot in the arm everyday!!!!!!!!!

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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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