Remember The Good

Remember not against us the iniquities of the past;
may your compassion quickly come to us…

From Psalm 79:8

I know I’ve mentioned my selective memory before. Fortunately, I think, I’m usually hard-pressed to recall past events which might have devastated me. Somehow, I’ve managed to let these things go. Any scars left by them have faded into nothingness. I also have to admit that, occasionally, a select few unpleasant events from my past come to the surface. I don’t say “select” because I’ve chosen to remember them. Still, for reasons unknown to me, the slightest hint of these incidents induces goosebumps or a queasy stomach if I allow them my attention.

I truly believe that there is much joy to be found in the time we’re given on this earth. I also realize that the realities of this life include the good and the bad which we impart upon others and upon ourselves. It seems that the best we can do is to learn from our errors and the errors of others. When someone or something hurts us, we must resolve never to impose the same pain on another soul. When something brings us joy, we must find ways to bring similar joy to those around us.

Perhaps a selective memory can serve us all well. If we choose to let go of the negativity which comes our way, we free ourselves to forgive the perpetrator and to embrace the positive in our lives more fully. With arms full of joy, we can hardly help sharing that joy those we meet along the way.

Forgiving God, be with us as we share the goodness and dispel the evil which comes our way.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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So Generously Restored!

…he leads me beside still waters
and restores my soul.

Psalm 23:2-3

I ran from the moment I woke that morning. Before thinking about a little volunteer pitch which I’d deliver at Mass that evening, I forced myself to complete my morning exercises. Afterward, I did two loads of laundry while working on a few more of these daily reflections. Completing this little to-do list put me in the perfect frame of mind to ask others who are able to step up and occasionally help out with some fairly easy tasks at church.

After practicing my one-minute and fifteen-second speech, I noticed that the November rain had let up. Though the red line on my thermometer had not edged beyond forty-five that day, I couldn’t resist the oddly peaceful setting which lay beneath the cloudy sky. Though the beautiful fall colors which adorned my neighborhood were muted on that seemingly dismal day, the scene before me nudged me back to Psalm 23.

Though I had a bit more to do inside, I headed outdoors to walk. Every step of the way, God restored my soul. Even on that gray-hued day, God refreshed me.

Loving God, thank you for the many gifts with which you refresh us.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Sow Love

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me so love…

From The Prayer of St. Francis

I think I’ve shared before my heartbreak when my now forty-year-old son was just seven years old. Something I asked him to do made my dear child angry enough to cry, “I hate you!” Because I rarely used this verb myself, I was moved to tears by this outburst. Rather than respond in the heat of the moment, I went out to our patio to consider what had occurred. When our dear neighbor shouted “Hello” over the fence, I burst into tears. Eventually, I explained what had happened and then asked my neighbor if her children, who are my age, ever said the equivalent when they were little. “Of course they did!” Ellie responded, “But only once each. After they shouted their feelings about me, I drew them close and said,’Well I still love you!'” With that, I returned to my son and told him the same. By the way, he never repeated that infamous line either.

I share this because I think we need to sow the seeds of love for one another very early on. At the same time, I also believe that it’s never too late to begin. Though I still don’t know what drove that shooter in Las Vegas to injure and kill so many of his fellow humans, I wonder what I can do to prevent someone else from even considering the same. How unloved must we be before we turn to hatred to address our concerns? More importantly, how do we love these feelings out of existence?

Today, I’m determined to sow love at every opportunity. Will you join me?

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

R… Rejoice and Be Glad!

This is the day the Lord has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.

Psalm 118:24

R is for Rejoice. Though I’ve selected this uplifting R word, I realize that life on this earth doesn’t always give us reason to rejoice. On occasion, the only way to deal with this reality is to accept that things are what they are and to move on. Still, when I choose to move on, I do so reluctantly. I’m not fully convinced that the situation I’ve abandoned can’t be improved at least a little.

Last week, I had a very close encounter with negative forces. Rather than adding more negativity to the mix, I decided to be a positive catalyst. Perhaps I could give all concerned a bit of hope. Though my stomach was in knots as I plugged along, my effort paid off in the end. While I didn’t change much, I did manage to help those involved to adjust their attitudes. We turned our resignation into an opportunity to rejoice that things weren’t any worse. The most important aspects of all of this were the decisions of those concerned to be positive. I “decided” not to add to the negativity and my friends “decided” to jump onto my bandwagon. Together, we infused joy into a tough situation.

We can make the choice to rejoice and be glad anytime and anywhere. Today, I’m choosing to abandon my resignation about this less-than-perfect world. Today, I’m choosing to rejoice and to be glad.

Dear God, thank you for our capacity to rejoice and our ability to choose to do so. May our efforts transform the imperfections of this world one choice at a time.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

The Word is LOVE

We are one body, individually members of one another.
Romans 12:5

As a child, I found the word “hate” to be terribly powerful. I refrained from using it for years. To “hate” anyone seemed to eliminate the possibility that I would ever learn to love him or her. In spite of the occasional teasing and physical trauma I suffered, I truly tried not to hate anyone.

When my childhood resolve eventually faded, this became more difficult. Fortunately, college gave me more than the tools I needed to teach. It was there that my appreciation for children young and old grew exponentially. Later, when I had my own classroom, I couldn’t keep my students from occupying special places in my heart. It was more often a colleague or a student’s parent who tested my ability to love than it was any of the children in my classroom. I reminded myself often that these adults were also somebody’s children. I challenged myself to find reasons they might be loved by their parents and to focus on them.

As I consider my frustration and sadness over so much of today’s news, I try to remember that those who turn our little worlds upside down and those who are playing havoc with the world at large are somebody’s children as well. We are all God’s children and it is up to us to find ways to get along. Though our efforts may seem small in the grand scheme of things, they will make a difference just the same.

Merciful God, help us to see one another with your eyes and to love one another with your heart. Help us to bring peace and justice back into this world, one encounter at a time.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Find The Good

Seek good and not evil,
that you may live.

Amos 5:14

The other day, I spent an hour clearing my desk of clutter. In the process, I found a folder of inspirational pieces which I’d kept for future reference. These bits of wisdom include a reflection which my niece forwarded to me some years ago. It was written by someone from her church. Just above the message, Cece wrote, “I thought you’d like this one.” While rereading those precious paragraphs, I realized once again that Cece was correct in her assessment.

The reflection was actually a commitment on the part of the writer to find the best in everyone and everything she would encounter during the coming day. The writer began by listing all of the reasons for her certainty that she would, indeed, find goodness around her. She would expect no effort on the part of others. Rather, she would look for goodness, regardless of how well-disguised it might be. While acknowledging the trials and tribulations which might mute that goodness in others, she would look for goodness just the same.

I’ve decided to keep this reflection in my folder as a reminder of my need to look for the good around me every day. Negativity bombards us from every direction. It’s time for each of us to respond by bombarding the world with our best attempts to find goodness and to infuse love into every moment we’re given.

Dear God, give us eyes to see and hearts to appreciate the goodness in ourselves and in others.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved