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Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Sunflower Seeds

Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

What Are You Worried About?

I worry. About many things. I bet you worry too–at least about some things. Sometimes I think we should define humans not as homo sapiens (wise one) but as homo anxietas (worried one!)

What do I worry about? Sometimes small things: Will my casserole turn out? Will I run into road construction on my drive to Cincinnati?… Will my blood pressure be good again?… Will my car behave?

Sometimes I worry about big things: The physical health of all my loved ones… the current political atmosphere… climate change… the future of the Catholic Church…. all those people who have no access to safe drinking water… human trafficking… the opioid crisis… world peace… a possible nuclear catastrophe.

How do I carry on with life against a backdrop of such worries? I could deny or minimize my worries. I could say things like, “My loved ones have access to good health care… God will take care of us… Science will save us… Our country has been divided before… We’ve had nuclear warheads for decades and there’s never been an all-out nuclear war.”

Or I could dull myself to the pain of my anxieties. Isn’t this one reason people become addicted to alcohol or other drugs? Or addicted to food, excessive work, or even the internet? Such addictions can begin as a temporary escape from our worries and anxieties–until our addiction itself becomes an even greater reality to worry about.

But I could also try to see my worry in a more positive light. Why do we humans worry? Because we care. We care about someone or something. A certain amount of worrying is pretty normal, therefore, because normal people care about things. Excessive worry, however, is not healthy. It can impede our freedom to act, to do good. Worry can also distract us from the life-giving goodness and beauty that surround us. In addition, excessive worry can drain our energy and put us in a serious funk.

And finally, we can bring our worries to God in our prayer. Rather than denying these worries, we could ask: What might my worries be urging me to do? How might I get involved in a situation or problem that I am worried about? Facing our anxieties is also an opportunity to renew our faith and trust in God. Without denying our worries, we can view them against the backdrop of God’s unending love and care for us.

On a scale of 1-10 (1 meaning I hardly ever worry and 10 meaning I worry a great deal) where do you fall?

What helps you to deal with your worries or anxieties?

Has your worry ever urged you to do something or to get more involved with a person, issue, or situation?

PS: I ask your prayers for a retreat I will be facilitating this weekend at Villa Maria Education and Spirituality Center in Villa Maria, PA. The theme is “Hanging onto Hope in Our Imperfect World.” Thank you very much!

I reached into the bluegrass-country music genre for this song by Alison Krauss. It’s called “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow.” Krauss began singing publicly at age 10. Thirty years later, at the height of her career, she stepped up to a microphone to sing, and nothing came out. She was eventually diagnosed with dysphonia, a vocal disorder. She overcame this setback and released another solo album in 2017. Her experience and this song fits perfectly with the theme of this reflection and with the season of autumn. I hope you like it.

Now it’s your turn to respond to this reflection and/or song. Don’t be shy!

32 Responses

  1. Good Morning Sr. Melannie!

    I am a 7 on the worry scale about health issues. When I get “creaky,” I try to breathe more intentionally and try to think of ways relax more. Breathing has helped me stay more in tune with what my body is telling me.

    I also try to send positive energy to those that I know who are suffering as well as doing the practical stuff.

    God bless. What a great reflection!


  2. This morning I am worried about my sister. She broke her leg,is in a cast, and can’t put weight in it. Today is her father-in-law’s funeral I ask your prayers for her comfort and healing and safety.
    Thank you for this timely post!

      1. Thanks for your prayers. My sister was able to be at the funeral for the full time. The rain even held off! God is good!
        Wish I could be at Villa Maria this weekend.

  3. I’m about a 4 on the worry scale but it cranks up with family health problems. To try NOT to worry just increases the worry level. I loved the song, I’ll send it on to my kids. For some reason I was reminded of Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift; that’s why they call it the present.” Why worry?

    1. Phillipians 4 seems to be popular and it is also one of my favorite verses. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. . .”
      It seems to be a family trait in our family but as we know, worry is like a rocking chair, it keeps you occupied but doesn’t get you anywhere!
      I do like the song and the beautiful fall leaves! I have 2 song suggestions for you when these songs match your column. They are from Glen Campbell. They are, “Try a Little Kindness” and “Less of Me”.

  4. Dear Sister,
    What a beautiful song. I was just reading Father John Bartunek’s book, Autumn meditations and the thought for today was Keeping our hand in Jesus’ hand. Then I heard in the song ‘who holds our hand’. God must be telling me something today. God bless you and your work!

  5. When I feel like I worry too much, I repeat to myself over and over ” Let go, let God” and/ or read Philippians 4:4-7 which includes the verse” do not worry about anything”.

  6. Good morning, all!

    I echo Kathleen’s “What a great reflection!” And the song by Alison Krauss is brilliantly beautiful!

    Not sure where I fall on the worry scale, but being a “homo anxietas,” loved ones — and all their concerns — are always in the center or the periphery of my mind.

    One thing I try to do to combat worry is to write someone I may be thinking about a letter — not an email — a slim parcel of peace. Another thing I do is open my journal and just start writing. This “word-letting” helps me to purge the worry. Finally, I pray. In Phillipians 4:6, Paul urges us to “dismiss all anxiety” from our minds, to go to God with our concerns. Easier said than done, I know, but as Christians it is something we can draw upon when choked by the thorns of anxiety.

    Jesus, of course, tells us to not even think about tomorrow. Again, easier said than done, but maybe something that can be practiced into habit.

    My prayers to all! Thank you, Sr. Melannie!

  7. I am about a 4, right now, but used to be much higher. I had areal awakening 16 years ago. Your paragraph about renewing our faith and trust in God and bringing our worries to himself is just what did. Also thanking him all day long for even the tiniest event.

    So looking forward to seeing you at the villa!!!

  8. My first husband used to say that my mother would depress Santa with the way she worried, so I kinda grew into that. But, I have learned through the years how to cope with the surprises that arise in our lives, in a much better, healthier way.
    When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I had all sorts of what-ifs going through my mind, but I just said to myself, “stay with what you know” and that did help.
    It is most helpful for me when there is some big concern, to just say to God, “I don’t know what is going to happen, but you do” and I am usually able to let it go, at least for awhile.
    I remind myself that God is standing next to me in the situation and will not leave me.
    Many years ago, my son who was in Italy in the Army, was trying to get custody of his 2 sons, as their mother was going through an extremely difficult time in her life. He had come to see them for 2 weeks but ended up trying to get permission to take them back with him. Now ordinarily this would have taken months to work out, but I had gone for a long walk , literally, with Jesus, putting forth all the possible roadblocks, but Jesus simply said,”It will be fine” with every thing I brought to him. By the time I got back home I was convinced that he would be taking them with him……and he did.
    An important piece is that I have learned not to wear the burden of what is going on with my children and grandchildren….that took counselling, but I am so glad I did it.

    Thank you Sr Melannie and prayers for your upcoming retreat,

  9. This is my first meditation as I just subscribed. I felt it was written for me specifically — I’m probably about a 8.5 on the anxiety scale. Everything seems to worry me about family, health, finances. I constantly work on “letting go and letting God” — and I know there’s some saying about that 98% of things we worry about never happen (pretty good odds, but I’m not a betting person.) So, this was a perfect first meditation. I know I’m going to love getting these in my inbox every week. Thank you for your message today and what I anticipate will be wonderful ways to start my day. You’re in my prayers for your retreat.

  10. Good morning Sister, I am about a 6 or 7 on the worry scale. I will hold you in prayer for your retreat. The song is definitely a favorite. Thanks for your blog! Have a great week.

  11. I lean on God’s Will,but as you say worry is human. I will share your reflection with the RCIA class I help with. Especially the song
    Prayers for your upcoming retreats.

  12. What a beautiful song….I do worry more than I should…. I am a 5 worry wart. Try to remember what Padre Pio said… Pray , hope and don’t worry…. sometimes easier to say than do… thanks for another great blog…prayers for your next retreat.

  13. Love the images in the video!
    When I worry that things are not going as I think they “should”, I repeat to myself, “I am not the manager of the universe.”

  14. Dear Sister ,
    Would you please address, at some point ,spirituality – what it is, can one learn how to be spiritual?, spirituality and religion- do all religious are spiritual?; can one be spiritual but not religious? Does sensitivity have anything to do with spirituality? How does one know that is spiritual?
    I’m thinking about The Beatles’ song about Van Gogh – there is a verse that goes like this: “This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.”
    Thanks! Maggie

  15. I worry more about our married children. Worry number 7. My husband and I have worked for the church all our lives. My husband is a Deacon and our children were so much a part of our faith experience. I worry but
    Also pray for God’s guidance.
    On another note, I have been waiting for your retreat at Villa Maria. I am very excited to attend this weekend.
    God Bless you!

  16. Sister Melanie,
    We woke up to six inches of snow this morning. It hasn’t stopped yet, but still it is a beautiful day. The birds are at the feeder outside the window. They don’t seem worried. Last year the pastor at St. Mary’s gave out Fr. Dolindo Ruotolo’s “Surrender Novena” which ends with the words “O Jesus, I surrender myself to You, take care of everything!” I have been saying the novena over and ever and it has brought my stress level down from 8/9 to about 4.
    Thank you for your thoughts today and the wonderful song.

  17. Hi Sr. Melanie

    Another great reflection! I don’t worry a lot but if I do, I repeat to myself:
    In quiet and trust your strength lies. Isaiah 30:15. God always shows me his Wisdom and Stength when most needed.

    Sending prayers your way dear Sr. Melannie!

    Nancy Frederico

  18. Who doesn’t worry? Whenever I do, I try to remember to “let go and let God”. It’s consoling and soothing to me.
    The Alison Krauss video was wonderful and the lyrics sung so well. But the colorful and radiant beauty of Autumn was awesome! Thank you and prayers always.

  19. Recently my worry scale has been almost a five at times. I have found many things helpful on such days. Starting my day with the gospel readings and a rosary sets a calming tone. Should I find that my anxieties cause my worries to rise, I too repeat the surrender prayer, “oh Jesus, I surrender myself to you. Take care of everything.”I repeat this until peace comes. If I am able I go to the Adoration chapel at church weekly. In Adoration, Jesus is able to melt my stress better than anything or anyone else.
    Looking back at what works for me to lessen my anxieties makes me appreciate my Catholic faith. It is so rich in traditions of ways to get closer to God.
    Thank you for your Monday morning posts Sr. Melanie. May God continue to inspire you to help inspire us! You make me dig deeper into my faith and gain a better understanding of how present God truly is.
    Loved the song selection and the scenes of this glorious season too.

  20. Sister Melanie, thank you for this beautiful meditation which spoke so deeply to me today! Perhaps you may recall my husband Eric and I met you at the Sisters of Charity Convent, Leavenworth KS, a couple years ago. A week ago today Eric was diagnosed with breast cancer and today we saw the oncologist! The news was encouraging, slow growing, 90% cure rate with mastectomy and follow up anti hormonal therapy. We see the cancer surgeon Wednesday! I shared the song in you blog with Eric. He pulled it up on u-tube as a favorite. He has been a rock through this, calm and peaceful! So many times your blogs are exactly what I need! I thank you for your ministry and I thank God for you!

    1. Sister Melannie,
      It’s so good to find your blog site. What a treat!!!
      I’ll be in touch. Love your style!!!
      Sister Robert Ann

  21. Oh, I worry constantly. The beads are remedial, for at least the 45 minutes it takes for me to say them. And the Serenity prayer, which I’m tempted to re-christen the Wisdom prayer (as everything hangs on that wisdom!).

  22. I am a born worrier and have very high anxiety . I am on 2 different meds for panic disorder. I live alone and I have my family that thinks tuff love is the answer. Right now I have vertigo really bad and its very scary please someone pray for me .

  23. My husband says I am a 7+ on the worry scale. Primarily I worry about our health and the time that one of us will be alone. I also worry about the health & welfare of our 8 children, 20 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Spiritual reading, journaling, swimming (weather permitting), and sometimes just sitting quietly, listening to music and petting my dogs relieves my anxieties.
    Thanks for the musical selection today. We have listened to the song several times.

  24. I just discovered your blog! I read your short blurbs in Living with Christ. When I get the new issue, I confess I hurry to Fr. George’s article and then to your short articles! I eat up your simplicity, which is at the same time so profound! To my disappointment, the January issue does not have anything by you in it. Hopefully you will return next month! In the meantime, I will enjoy and grow from your articles here! Thank you Sister Melanie! PS I am a member of Holy Angels Parish in Bainbridge where I met you.

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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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