Patterns, Patterns Everywhere --by Sr. Monika

Y-shape in trees

Wondrous patterns surround us. The spiral is found in any garden and in the heavens.

The Y shape is in every tree and bush and in many other places. If our eyes are accostomed to looking for them the curve, the straight line, and the orb are easily recognized.


Missouri orb spider's giant web

My life in art is about patterns. Chip carving, which I did in the 90’s, is patterns cut into the surface of the wood. Knitting, felting, and weaving are accomplished using patterns. Dot painting is patterned dot upon dot. And Zentangle, my current practice, is all about patterns: repeated slow strokes of black ink on white paper. Curves, orbs, lines all coming together for a beautiful image. From the beginning of history people used patterns to create art. Drumming, music, dance are all based on patterns. Could it be that people of old observed the patterns around them and were moved to recreate them?

 I can see patterns in all of what God created. And sometimes I can see patterns in my own life and in the lives of others. Patterns of success and failure. Patterns of learning and growing. Patterns of ups and downs, of living and dying. The pattern our monastic community follows every day in the Liturgy of the Hours.

Persons can change patterns, too. With awareness we recognize patterns in our lives that do not serve us well. Then, with grace and choice we can re-make the problem patterns into new and life-giving patterns. One day I forgot my book back in the classroom I had just left. The class had been all about automatic or patterned thinking. When I realized I forgot my book, I said to myself, “Monika, you are so stupid.” I stopped in my tracks! I recognized the automatic thought. So, like the teacher suggested, I replaced my automatic thought with the truth: I forgot my book. And that’s all. No need for self-criticism or judgment. It was a really great and helpful object lesson. It became a touchstone for me as I became more and more aware of other automatic thoughts. Science tells us we create pathways in our brains that can become like ruts in a road. We need awareness and determination to overcome these ruts, which are sometimes quite deep, to make new pathways.

Patterns: beautiful and/or problematic. Becoming aware of them brings us new life. “ transformed by the renewing of your mind...” into the pattern of Christ. Romans 12.2


  • Comment posted by Maria Slizys on October 17, 2023 at 6:51PM (8 months ago)

    Thank you, Sr. Monika, for this reflection on patterns.
    It made me think of the need to slow down my pace so that patterns...internal or outside...can be acknowledged and appreciated...thank you!

  • Comment posted by Laura Swan on September 29, 2023 at 10:08AM (9 months ago)

    And koalas love to sleep in the "y" of trees!

  • Comment posted by Gilda Warden on September 20, 2023 at 9:34PM (9 months ago)

    Wonderful reflections on patterns, Sr. Monica! As a musician & artists, of course you see patterns. I remember you taught me the beauty of spider webs. Thank you for sacred geometry reminders...big hug!

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