Celebrating Easter Seeds, 2020

by Melannie Svoboda SND on April 13, 2020

In his book, Taking Flight, Anthony de Mello tells this story. A woman goes into a store and finds God behind the counter. She asks, “What do you sell here?” God responds, “Everything your heart desires.” So she immediately asks for peace, love, freedom from fear, and happiness for all of humanity.” God smiles and says, “I’m afraid you misunderstood. We don’t sell fruits here. Only seeds.”

(All Pictures from Pexels)

Only Seeds. What a beautiful reminder for all of us as we celebrate the central Mystery of our faith: the Resurrection. Notice, I capitalized the word because it refers to the Resurrection of Jesus. But writer Kathy Coffey suggests we all experience “small r” resurrections in our lives. She challenges us to name some of those resurrections so we might appreciate the “big R” Resurrection of Jesus.

What are some of our “small r” resurrections? Here are a few examples. Perhaps you and your spouse went through a “rough patch” in your marriage, and you came out of it better and even more committed to each other. Or maybe you see the ultrasound of your grandchild or you notice a teenager, whom you thought was self-centered, suddenly doing a very kind and unselfish thing. Or you see a friend working hard to curb her negatively or you notice people are checking on their neighbors more often these days. Or maybe you feel a stirring in your own heart to make more time for prayer or to get involved with a current issue you feel strongly about.

Easter 2020, for many of us, is unlike any other Easter we have probably celebrated. During the very week when many of us feel drawn to Church, we were being asked to stay away. Who would have thought? This Easter we had no Holy Week services (except perhaps online), no people to gather with for worship, no organs, no pianos, no choirs, no Easter lilies, no Easter dinner gatherings.

This deprivation of many of our usual signs and rituals for Easter, challenges us to look more carefully for the seeds of resurrection in our personal lives. This deprivation also calls us to notice these seeds of the resurrection in our local community, our state, our country, our world. Can you name at least one seed in each of these places?

When we ask God for peace, love, freedom from fear, and happiness for all humanity, we want God to give us fruits. But instead, God gives us seeds for everything our hearts desire. Getting seeds is more challenging than being handed fully ripened fruits. It means we are entrusted with bringing these seeds to eventual fruition. We must plant the seeds in good soil, water them with care, and pull the weeds that we know are certain to grow along with them.

How do we plant these seeds in our lives? There are many ways. Here are just a few. We plant the seed of peace by our calm and patient manner. We plant the seed of love by our attention and kindness to others. We plant the seed of freedom from fear by our daily prayer and trust in God. And we plant the seed of happiness for humanity by fully embracing our kinship with the entire Earth Community.

A question I’ve heard a lot recently is this: “Will this pandemic change us for the better?” I certainly hope so! Do you see any seeds of change in yourself because of the experience of this pandemic?

1) How was your celebration of Easter this year?

2) What are some of the desires of your heart? How might you plant the seeds for these things in your daily life?

3) How might COVID-19 change us for the better? Have you seen any evidence of this in your life and the life of your area, country, our world?

I wish you all a very Happy Easter–one filled with many seeds of resurrection!

I’m giving you two songs today. The first is a traditional Easter song by the Joslin Grover Choral Society entitled “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today.” The second is a contemporary Easter song by Kari Jobe called “Forever.” Take your pick—or listen to both of them! At the end is a short video called “Bird Song Opera.” It’s the songs (and noises) birds make synchronized to Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” (Thanks to Kathy for alerting me to this video.)

“Christ the Lord Is Risen Today”:

“Forever”:

“Bird Song Opera”:

I invite you to respond below. We all love hearing from you!

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Ann Boland April 13, 2020 at 2:27 am

The best I can say is that Sr Melannie You are for the birds and you make me Very happy! Thanks!

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Thomas DeFreitas April 13, 2020 at 4:13 am

Sr Melannie and everyone, good morning!

For brevity’s sake, I’ll answer Question 1 only. My Easter seemed more deeply meaningful this year than in almost any other year previous of my adult life. I “attended” triduum services “at” Canterbury Cathedral, thanks to YouTube. The liturgies were simple and dignified, and so beautiful against the backdrop of our current crisis. Almost always, the liturgy was in the celebrant’s living room, and not inside the cathedral itself! Nonetheless, I was moved profoundly.

And — quickly glancing at Question 3! — I’ve been heartened to hear that some of our cities, once plagued with smog, have been lately blessed with blue skies. I’ve seen small tokens of solidarity in my community. And yesterday, while walking along the Mystic River, I saw a fellow of at least 65, with a handlebar mustache and a black cowboy hat, take out his guitar and start singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”!

To sum up: our “small” resurrections and our improvised celebrations seem all the more beautiful, all the more significant, against the backdrop of the current crisis.

Wishing everyone abundant measures of peace, light, health, and joy.

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John E Hopkins April 13, 2020 at 5:14 am

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

Where to start? First, Kerry and I watched Cardinal Sean O’Malley celebrate Mass at Holy Cross Catherdral in Boston. In his sermon, Cardinal Sean, who can be very funny, said while the apostles were in the “witness protection program” and practicing plenty of “social distancing,”Mary Magdalene went to the tomb!

I second Tom’s comment of the pollution levels droping due to fewer cars on the road. Maybe it’s my imagination but the sky DOES seem a cleaner blue.

Finally, Kerry and I have resurrected our love for ping-pong! One day she decided to clear the dining room table, stretched and clamped a ping-pong net across its center, cleared some space, and now we play three to five games a day. Great fun!

Happy Easter, everyone! “Love is patient, love is kind.”

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Clara April 13, 2020 at 6:52 am

What a beautiful reflection! I particularly reflected on the little “r’s” I have had in my life. It is the tiny steps we take, that help us realize we have suddenly taken a very big step! Blessings to you, Sister!

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Kathleen Magiera April 13, 2020 at 7:10 am

Happy Easter Sr. Melannie and friends!

COVID 19 has helped me stay more connected to family and friends. Yesterday our family did an Easter Zoom meeting with relatives from all over the country and world. It was such a blessing to share news and laughter for 30 minutes.

The Bird Song Opera was “tweet.”

Kathleen

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Denise April 13, 2020 at 7:51 am

Good Easter Monday Morning to All!
Yesterday I imagined my Easter was much like the original Followers. Not my usual celebration but a more sobering occasion. I too was feeling fearful of what has transpired and it’s lasting effects on me personally and those all around me as well.
I like the small r reflection idea as I don’t believe I have ever pondered the concept. I will do so today and in my usual style, write it down and refer back to it many times until I am satisfied I know myself.
The bird opera was a keeper and so uplifting! I LOVE jellybeans and look for new variety to enjoy each Easter. This year the birds are my new jellybeans for my 2020 basket. Thank you so much Sister.

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Pete April 13, 2020 at 8:18 am

I embrace the “seed” of technology where I was able to attend sunrise service. Our Pastor did a sunrise service in front of our church and posted it online. This wasn’t until 9:00 A.M. but it was great to be “home” and attend Mass. Watching the Easter Vigil Mass with Holy Cross in Boston, Bishop Baron during Holy Week, was all due to technology. Thankfully the “seeds” are out there, we just have to water them and watch them grow! And thanks for “Sunflower Seeds”.

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Marge April 13, 2020 at 8:38 am

I especially love the Bird Song Opera! Happy Easter!

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Shirley April 13, 2020 at 10:48 am

Your message was great, your two songs were wonderful and the video outstanding. Hope you had a Blessed and Happy Easter!

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Beverly Redmond April 13, 2020 at 11:49 am

The leadership team of the SNJM community organized an online gathering of Sisters and Associates from around the globe for an Easter prayer service. We were over 200 smiling faces, gathered in celebration in the midst of pain, fear and isolation to signal the profound miracle of the risen Christ. I experienced the resurrection in a way I have never experienced it before. Christ is risen, always in our midst in His many disguises. What an experience of love, compassion and presence!
P.S. I loved the Bird Concert!!

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marilyn woidat April 13, 2020 at 12:17 pm

Definitely my moment closest to God for the day and possibly for the
week.
Thank you so very much Sister M, Mozart, and aviary friends!

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Roselyne Mwende April 13, 2020 at 2:36 pm

Beautiful message

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Rose Schlesser April 14, 2020 at 11:50 pm

Roselyne,
You are the first person I have “met” with the same spelling of my given name! I prefer “Rose” because it’s usually spelled and pronounced correctly! Easter greetings to you!

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Janet Kreiner April 13, 2020 at 9:56 pm

My heart is full of love after reading your blog and I so enjoyed the bird concert. Thank you!!!

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Karen April 14, 2020 at 10:23 am

Thank you once again, Sr. Melannie. My boys (10 and 12) and I greatly appreciated the bird opera this morning.
I’ll answer #2…What are some of the desires of your heart? How might you plant the seeds for these things in your daily life?
I’ve desired for a long time to know for sure that I am following the will of God for my life and had been busy searching and researching (and praying) about what that was. This stay at home order, and a great bible study during Lent has helped me to begin to realize that my “orders” from God are not going to come on a big stone tablet like Moses received. By staying home, I’ve come to realize that God’s will for me is in the little, daily choices like St. Therese taught us. I am focusing on becoming aware of what is right in front of me, what He is asking me to do or be right here, right now. Whether that is to show more love and service to my husband, more attention to my kids, He is saying that is enough, the rest will take care of itself.
Happy Easter all!

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Michelle Bookmeier April 14, 2020 at 5:10 pm

I have taught Religious Education on and off for a lot of years. Several years were the high school grades. I can remember calling my dad after a class and being so frustrated about how the lesson/activity/whole thing had gone. He always said, “You have to remember you are planting seeds. You may not see how they finally grow, but you have to keep planting the seeds.” Now as a middle school special education teacher his advice continues to resonate almost daily.

I agree and relate to what Karen said in regards to #2. I have also (finally) come to the realization that God isn’t going to use neon or lightning bolts to direct me. I have to take time and look and listen to what is going on in front of and around me. I’m a worrier and this pandemic is teaching me that I can worry all I want but that is not going to do any good. I must be present in the now and leave the “what ifs” alone.

Kind of wordy today, I know. Have been trying to be brave and respond. Then when I do-whoosh-it all comes out. Here’s to birds and seeds and the gift of unplanned time!

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Patt Germann April 14, 2020 at 5:54 pm

Thank you — today I especially needed to think about the seed of peace as it was a hard day from the beginning (I wanted to just stay in bed and ignore the world’s mess) and when I got up, I got bad news about something we had hoped would happen but didn’t. Went downhill from there and I wasn’t very PEACEFUL with spouse. Need to water the seed a bit more, for sure. These are hard times to be isolated even with someone we love so much. God grant us true peace.

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Annie April 14, 2020 at 10:49 pm

That Bird Song Opera was my favorite of the songs! I loved it. I think in heaven all kinds of species will cooperate together in creating music! I’m hoping for improved musical ability in heaven too. What a delight the heavenly species orchestra and choir will be! Thank you!

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Jean Canatsey April 15, 2020 at 11:17 am

Good morning, Sr. Melannie,
Looks like I am running late on responding again. Funny how time seems to not have so much meaning these days.
I was thinking about planting seeds and realized that when a son went to prison almost 20 years, he planted the seed of my husband and myself ministering to prisoners and to their families. It was planted in fertile soil, has been nourished by others and still continues to grow and produce fruit.
God works in mysterious ways and often plants the seeds in adversity. It is our job to feed and water them.
I really appreciated the concert by the birds. It made “The Magic Flute” truly magical!

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Maureen Pierce April 16, 2020 at 11:05 am

Thank you for sharing the wonderful Birdsong Opera. It made my heart & spirit sing!

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S. Cusack April 16, 2020 at 11:49 am

Your words, “Seeds of change,” resonated with me. Lectio Divina has taught me to write or say out loud, words that God speaks to me from messages like yours, Sr. Melannie. Thank you.

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