Two Poems for Reflection

Today I’d like to share two poems with you. The first one is entitled “Drive-Thru Epiphany.” It was written by John Hopkins, a faithful reader of this blog. John taught high school English for 33 years. He retired last week. We wish him well!

The other day I was in the drive-thru,

biding my time, six cars ahead of me,

the morning gray rising to pale blue,

the moon webbed in the branches of a tree,

the radio off, my cell phone put away,

just a slow-inching cell of solitude

hoping a disembodied voice will say

A murmuration of starlings.

it has a potion to perk my attitude.


When—glory!—a lifting, flowing veil

Of birds alit upon that tree’s cold limbs,

Only to re-veil towards the moon! To sail

Into a beauty free of all our sins!


I drove on up, cleansed by this perfect prayer,

A murmuration that dazzled the air!


Have you ever experienced “an epiphany” while doing the most ordinary things: going through a drive-thru… folding the laundry… mowing the lawn… cutting up a green pepper… standing in a check-out line… waiting at a red light… cleaning out a drawer? If so, what was the experience like for you?

In what way was the flight of the birds “a perfect prayer”?

I loved the play on the word “murmur.” Murmur can mean a low, indistinct , continuous sound. It can also mean to complain. Being in a long line of cars at a drive-thru can put us in a complaining mood. But a flock of starlings is called a “murmuration.” Have you ever seen a flock of birds flying as one… making beautiful patterns in the sky… turning on a dime?

The second poem is one of my “fun poems” entitled “Prayer of the Tuckered Out.” It can be found in my book, Just Because:

 O God, look down upon me so weary, worn, and stooped,

and hear the humble prayer of one who’s really pooped.

I ask not for good fortune nor for serenity.

Instead one thing I beg for: How ‘bout some energy!

Sometimes I’m not so good, God, I fight, complain, and pout.

I offer no excuses except I’m tuckered out.

My spirit is so willing. It wants to do what’s best.

Sometimes we’re just too tired to pray… But God understands… (Source pexels)

The problem is my flesh, God,

for all it wants is rest.

This prayer should be much longer,

but what else can I pray when

I’m too dog-tired to stay awake?

Have pity, God. Amen.

Two thoughts about prayer. First, getting sufficient rest is vital not only for our physical and psychological well-being, but also for our spiritual life. Second, one of the best pieces of advice I was given about prayer is this: pray as you can—not as you can’t. Start where you are. This means our prayer can take different forms depending on where we are.

PS: Thank you for your prayers for last week’s retreat in beautiful Chatawa, Mississippi. According to Google, Chatawa has a population of 85! But we had over 60 on retreat so we almost doubled the population! A big thank you to Sister Helen Roper and all the SSND’s who live in Chatawa for your warm hospitality!

The song today is called “Worn” and it’s performed by a contemporary Christian band called “Tenth Avenue North.” Their name comes from an east-west road in Palm Beach County, Florida, where they were originally from.

Any thoughts you’d like to share with us–about the poems and/or the song?

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  1. Kathleen Magiera on June 26, 2017 at 5:31 am

    Thanks for the poems Sr. Melannie.

    Sometimes, my epiphany comes when I am walking my dog in the morning the quiet of our village. Just gazing up at the moon that is slightly visible even as the day begins reminds me that God is still there.


    • Melannie Svoboda SND on June 26, 2017 at 1:48 pm

      Dear Kathleen, I know a number of individuals who have told me that walking their dog is a “spiritual experience.” Thanks for reminding us of that great truth! Sr. Melannie

  2. Doris on June 26, 2017 at 9:07 am

    Your second poem and the comments about the need for rest reminded of a quotation of Pope St. John XXIII: “It’s your Church, Lord; I’m going to bed.” 🙂

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on June 26, 2017 at 1:50 pm

      Dear Doris, If a pope and a great saint can call it quits at night, certainly so can I! Thanks for the quote! Sr. Melannie

  3. Denise Nolan, OP on June 26, 2017 at 10:08 am

    Thank you Melanie. I needed the poems and music. I was at a retreat you gave in Berakah, NH and I read each week your thoughts. It’s very helpful. I am a caregiver for an 97 year old aunt and at times it can get weary. She’s a doll but it is hard. So thank you for your hopefulness and encouragement. You are an inspiration to all.

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on June 26, 2017 at 1:52 pm

      Dear Denise, I remember Berakah very well, nestled in that quaint, little New England town! Being a caregiver has many challenges no matter how loving your “charge” is… May you find the strength daily to serve with great love. Sr. Melannie

  4. Carolyn McGill on June 26, 2017 at 10:13 am

    Dear Sr. Melannie, I attended St. Mary of the Pines at Chatawa from 1953 to 1957. It was a wonderful girls’ boarding school, run by the School Sisters of Notre Dame. It had a huge influence on my life, all for the better. I know that now it is a retreat center, and I am so glad that you had a wonderful experience there.

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on June 26, 2017 at 1:55 pm

      How nice to hear from a graduate of St. Mary of the Pines in Chatawa, MS. I saw many old pictures of the boarding school while I was there. It must have been quite a place. But now it serves as a retirement home for the SSND’s and a lovely retreat center. The Sisters are good at adapting to the realities of today’s world. Thank you for writing, Carolyn! Sr. Melannie

  5. Marla on June 26, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Thank you for two great poems. I always wondered who John Hopkins was and why his post was always first. Should have guessed he was a teacher. Up early, on the way to educate, needing time to reflect on how to best reach sometimes reluctant students. Finally an inner inspiration presented unexpectedly to lift the spirit, then a sip of the outer energizer to give the body help to carry on. Congratulations, John, on 33 years of teaching! It will really never end.

    • john hopkins on June 26, 2017 at 12:59 pm

      Thank you, Marla! So here’s what happened today: I’m saying my prayers and I fell asleep. When I awoke, I thought to myself — Sr. Melannie’s poem! “Have pity, God. Amen.”

      • Melannie Svoboda SND on June 26, 2017 at 2:00 pm

        Dear John, So you fell asleep while saying your prayers! How fitting! As you begin to enjoy your retirement, may you always find time for a few extra “naps in God’s loving arms.” Thanks for the poems you sent–and for reading my blog every week! Gratefully, Melannie

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on June 26, 2017 at 1:57 pm

      Dear Marla, You were “right on” about John Hopkins. But then again, you were always very intuitive! Be sure to see John’s response to your response! And thanks for writing, Marla! Melannie

  6. Sandy Zabierowsky on June 26, 2017 at 11:08 am

    Thank you,
    Both poems are very creative. The 1st one is a special moment of reflection and acknowledgement to our spiritual side.
    The 2nd one is our daily living and how we should slow down to praise and Thank Our Lord for our existence.
    The song is perfect and meaningful.

    God Bless

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on June 26, 2017 at 1:58 pm

      Dear Sandy, I’m glad you enjoyed the two poems and the song. Thank you for letting us know what they spoke to you! Sr. Melannie

  7. Josita on June 26, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    Dear Melannie, I do love to reflect on your blogs each week, but lately have not had the time to respond.
    Both poems told me to slow down and enjoy the view.
    My bedroom with 4 Windows faces the east, so I am very often awakened to a breathtaking sunrise , always unique and gorgeous, even when there are dark clouds. They always give me the strength to get out of bed and face a new day created by the divine artist!
    Thanks so much for bringing these thoughts to mind!
    Blessings for a peaceful, joy- filled summer. Josita

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on June 28, 2017 at 11:30 am

      Dear Josita, It’s good hearing from you again. How nice that every morning the Divine Artist paints a beautiful sunrise for you. My room faces west, so I get some lovely sunsets! Thanks for writing! Melannie

  8. Mary Fran on June 26, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    Thank you Melannie and John for sharing these poems and Melannie for your reflection on both. Murmuring is my new favorite word for today!
    Mary Fran

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on June 28, 2017 at 11:31 am

      Hi, Mary Fran! Yes, I agree that “murmuring” is a fascinating word… Melannie

  9. Shirley on June 26, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    Thank you Sister Melannie for sharing both poems. Thanks for the beautiful song too. Rest is so important!!

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on June 28, 2017 at 11:32 am

      Amen to last words: Rest is so important! Thank you, Shirley! Sr. Melannie

  10. Barbara Hirn on June 26, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    You are all so very amazing. Very hard few months for me so I so enjoy Sr. Melannie and all of your responses. Let’s me know in this very, very hard time of our country that there are very beautiful, wonderful, inspiring people to help all of us cope. Thanks again.

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on June 28, 2017 at 11:34 am

      Dear Barbara, Yes, the good and wonderful people are definitely in the majority. They quietly make the world go around with their love… Sr. Melannie

  11. Carol Kapostasy on June 26, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    I loved both poems; yoga for the soul….. that’s what your inspirational readings, songs, pictures, & comments are for me Sr. Melanie. I thought about all the time I spend lamenting about things I have no control over & the Serenity Prayer came to mind. I’m reminded that I walk under the umbrella WITH God during turbulent times & that trusting Him will ease my burden; freeing up my energy to do His will.

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on June 28, 2017 at 11:35 am

      Dear Carol,
      I appreciated your description of the poems as “yoga for the soul.” And the serenity prayer is one of my favorite prayers too! Thanks for responding! Sr. Melannie

  12. Leeanne on June 26, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    Always grateful to see Sunflower Seeds in my in box! Where do you find your songs? This one is so fitting right now, as were the poems. Nature is my balm- going for a long walk with my two dogs first thing in the morning when the air is fresh, the heat of the day is yet to come, and all the creatures are about. I also loved your words “May you find the strength daily to serve with great love.” I think that is appropriate for each of us- no matter our vocation, just as Jesus would have us do. God bless!

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on June 28, 2017 at 11:40 am

      Dear Leeanne, You asked where do I find the songs? I search you tube. Sometimes I google a particular artist or song title. Other times I google things like: Christian song about hope… Christian song about creation… Psalm 91, etc. It takes me a lot of time to find an appropriate song, I admit, but in the process, I come across other songs to use in future blogs. I also listen to our local Christian radio station (99.5 The Fish) that plays many of the songs I use… I liked your words: “Nature is my balm.” It’s mine too! Thanks for writing, Leeanne. Sr. Melannie

  13. Michelle on June 28, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    Dear Sr. Melannie & John: When I read John’s poem, it made me think of the starlings I literally wait for each year. They come hundreds at a time murmuring in the trees and then flying in sync in a black cloud only to land in my bottom meadow and staying for moments or minutes always leaving me breathless! They move effortlessly together as a song, a wave of song! Magnificent!! Some complain about the starlings, but not me!! Not only do I stand in awe and wonder, but as well there is always a prayer on my lips to accompany their dances. Thank you so much for your poems and happy retirement, John! You’re gonna love it!!

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on June 29, 2017 at 9:32 am

      Dear Michelle, What a beautiful poetic description of the flock of starlings you enjoy every year. Yes, they are a “wave of song.” Thank you for sharing your sense of awe and wonder with all of us! Sr. Melannie

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