Why Sunflower Seeds?

Why did I name my blog “Sunflower Seeds”? First, because sunflowers are just plain beautiful. When I was growing up on our small farm in northeastern Ohio, we often grew sunflowers. Even back then I loved their tall sturdy stalks, their bright yellow petals, and their “faces” of rich, dark seeds.

But sunflowers are not only beautiful, they are bountiful.  Sunflowers produce millions of seeds. When toasted, these seeds are a tasty snack for humans. And they provide life-saving nourishment for many birds and animals during the long, cold winter. When crushed, sunflower seeds yield a rich oil low in cholesterol and (some say) one that rivals olive oil in quality. And did you know that the cruder oil of sunflowers can be made into soap and candles?

Beauty, bounty, oil. What more could the sunflower give us? There is one more thing: a powerful image for our spiritual life. Let me explain.

Tradition tells us that sunflowers always follow the sun, that is, they turn their “faces” in the direction of the sun no matter where it is in the sky. St. Julie Billiart, the foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame, liked sunflowers too. As a little girl she saw a lot of them growing in the fields of southern France. Julie found in this natural movement of the sunflower an ideal for the spiritual life. Like the sunflower, she said we should “turn always toward God” who is our sun and our source of beauty, life and nourishment.

“Sunflower Seeds” seems an appropriate name for a blog on everyday spirituality. For, as I see it, the underlining challenge of the spiritual life is this: to keep facing and moving in the right direction—toward our Creator who beckons us with open arms, toward Jesus who not only leads the way but is the way, and with the Spirit who lavishes us with God’s own strength.

If I could, I would now present each of you with an actual sunflower. But since that’s not possible, I’m giving you a virtual one instead. My prayer is that this blog may encourage all of us (myself included!) to grow tall and strong in our faith, to be lavish with our seeds (our gifts), and to always follow the sun!


No Comments

  1. Carol Dikovitsky on February 15, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Congratulations, Melannie! Well done! I look forward to sharing your thoughts and reflections in the future. Carol

  2. Sr. Juliemarie McDonald, SND on February 15, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Dear Melannie, your blog will be right up my spiritual alley! Your simple thoughts pack of unmined diamonds. Thank you. Congratulations!

  3. Sr. Ellen Beebe on February 16, 2012 at 1:52 am

    How wonderful! Congratulations on your new blog. Thank you for your reflection on sunflowers – and for all the reflections still to come!

  4. Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on February 16, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Melannie, I had no idea that sunflower seeds had so many uses, so much potential. I share your closing wish that encourages “all of us (myself included!) to grow tall and strong in our faith, to be lavish with our seeds (our gifts)…”

  5. Sr. Frances Murray, SND on February 16, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Dear Melannie,

    What a joy to see your website! Congratulations to all who made it happen and to you who will keep it happening! I look forward to visiting often. What a wonderful way to share graces and insights far and wide!

  6. Sister Mary Karlene Seech, SND on February 16, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Dear Melannie,
    What a wonderful way of spreading your gift for reflective writing about everyday happenings with all of us. Just yesterday, a parishioner stopped by my office to say how much your book, By the Way means to him. Thanks for sharing your gifts.

  7. Sister Mary St. Leo DeChant on February 17, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Thanks for the wonderful information on the Sunflowers. A simple flower but so full of meaning. I will try to use the information each day in my daily little efforts to turn to the Lord and to use my gifts for others.

  8. Fr. Rich Jones on February 17, 2012 at 2:49 pm


    Congrats on your new blog “Sunflower Seeds”–thanks for branching out in a new way! I read and re-read all of your books and refer to them many a times. Thanks for sharing the abundance of God’s marvelous love in real -life stories and experiences. Monday is always a great day for sunshine in one’s life. Thanks for being a towering ‘Sunflower’ in my spritual journey and life! God bless you.

    With love and prayers,
    Father Rich Jones
    Diocese of Pittsburgh

  9. Macrina Wiederkehr on February 17, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    You Go Girl! I admire your discipline. Each Monday! I made a promise to myself, once a week — but my promise often limps. For me, it is my writing practice. Congratulations. I’ll be checking in.

  10. Sr. Kathleen Glavich on February 17, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Blessings on your social media venture, Melannie. A footnote: When I was in Kansas, which has the sunflower as its state flower, someone told me that sunflowers follow the sun even on cloudy days. Another lesson from the sunflower!

  11. Annete Adams, SND on February 19, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Dear Melannie,
    In a country where we have many sunflowers growing, your article was enriching and thoroughly enjoyable. When I look out our chapel window to the inner court, I can see these beautiful flowers each day. Thanks for sharing your giftedness of thoughts and words with so many. I’ll look forward to your weekly reflections and I will surely share your them with our novices and postulants also. Blessings on you

  12. pjnoga on February 20, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Melannie, wow! I love the Sunflower Seeds. So happy for you and all your
    Gifts of prayer you share with us. Your are certainly blessed! Looking forward to reading your blogs!

  13. smjames on March 5, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Beautiful! Thanks so much for the blog! I have never followed a blog before and now Four of my sisters are blogging. So proud and so grateful for the sharing!

  14. Ann Marie Pellman on November 9, 2019 at 10:07 am

    Dear Melanie~
    I came across your blog through reading daily reflections in the Living Faith~ Daily Catholic Devotions. My mother Barbara Windisch was taught by catholic nuns where she grew up in Chester PA by The sisters of Notre Dame. Sunflowers found me, and I grew to obsess about them after a very trying time in my late 20’s. I then began decorating one my apartments during that time in my life with a floral theme and Sunflowers were all over the place in my little sanctuary of a home.
    I now refer to ‘myself’ as on of the ‘Son’s Flowers’ ~I wanted to share this with you today.
    I very much enjoy your writings and inspirational writings.
    God Bless.
    Ann Marie Pellman
    Devoted Lover and Follower of Our Lord, Jesus Christ

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