Restored Once Again

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

Psalm 23:2-3

It was a new morning, but the same old routine. Once again, I ran from the moment I woke. Before thinking about another of my Sunday reflections, I forced myself to complete my morning exercises. Afterward, I did two loads of laundry while picking up the house and then read the coming weekend’s scripture passages. Though I’d decided not to mention COVID-19 and our other current sources of misery by name, I also realized that each of these afflictions weigh heavily upon us all these days.

After getting a positive start on that reflection, I noticed that the rain had let up. I wasn’t certain how long this would last. However, I was certain that the red line on my thermometer had not edged beyond forty-five that day. Still, 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 plenty more to do inside, I headed outdoors to walk. Every step of the way, autumn’s beauty urged me on. It wasn’t until I returned home that I realized God had restored my soul. Even on that gray-hued day, God had refreshed me.

Loving God, thank you for the many beautiful ways in which you refresh us.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Plant Seeds of Love

Where there is hatred, let me sow love…
From The Prayer of St. Francis

I’ve shared this heartbreak before, but it bears repeating during these difficult days…

My now forty-something 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 his 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.

After I composed myself, I explained what had happened. Before she could respond, I asked my neighbor if her children, who were already adults then, ever said the equivalent when they were little. “Of course they did!” Ellie responded, “But only once. 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 today because I think we need to sow 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 drives us to do the terrible things we sometimes do to our fellow humans, I wonder what I can do to prevent more of the same. How unloved must we feel 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. Please, join me.

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

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

R… Rejoice

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

Psalm 118:24

R is for Rejoice. Before I continue, I must share that I considered using “resignation” as my R word. It had come to my attention, once again, that life on this earth is imperfect at best. It seemed, once again, that the only way to deal with this reality is to accept that some things are what they are and to move on. Unfortunately, when I choose to move on, I do so reluctantly. Somehow, I’m convinced that the situation I’ve abandoned actually could be improved for the better.

This other day, when one such situation presented itself, I decided that I could not accept that it is what it is. Rather than adding more negativity to the mix, I decided to be a positive catalyst who might actually give all concerned a bit of hope. In the end, my effort paid off. Though I didn’t change much, I did help those concerned to adjust their attitudes regarding the mess which temporarily overwhelmed us. Turning our resignation into an opportunity to rejoice that things weren’t any worse helped. Perhaps 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 tough circumstances.

The Psalmist who offered the wonderful suggestion cited above asks us to be glad and to rejoice. This is a choice we can make anytime and anywhere. Today, I’m deciding to abandon my resignation about this less-than-perfect world. Today, I’m going to rejoice and be glad.

Dear God, thank you for giving us the capacity to rejoice and the free will to choose to do so. May our efforts transform the imperfections of this world into opportunities to reveal your goodness.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Love Them All…

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.

My childhood resolve eventually faded and 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 these people might be loved by their parents and to focus on those attributes.

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.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Find The Good… It’s There!

Seek good and not evil,
that you may live.

Amos 5:14

Remember when I mentioned cleaning off my desk the other day? I actually spent an hour dealing with my beloved clutter. That day, I found a small piece of paper with three words written on it. Those little gems inspired the reflection I wrote immediately afterward. Today, I’m going to share another bit of wisdom which my niece forwarded to me some years ago. It was written by a fellow church member. Just above the message, Cece had written, “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 their goodness just the same.

I know why I kept this reflection. It’s a poignant reminder of my need to look for the good around me as well. Negativity bombards us from every direction. I think it’s time for each of us to respond by bombarding the world with our best attempts to find goodness in those around us. Perhaps we can go on to one-up ourselves by infusing our own goodness and 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.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

R… Rejoice!

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

Psalm 118:24

R is for Rejoice. Our ability to rejoice is an amazing gift! Though I admit that I’m sometimes tempted to engage in resignation instead, rejoicing is far more productive and far more rewarding!

Not long ago, I was tempted to choose between resigning myself to ongoing aggravation or walking away from a situation. In the process, I found that I couldn’t accept the currently overused adage that “It is what it is.” I also didn’t want to add more negativity to the mix. In the end, I determined that the situation was important enough to merit serious effort. Perhaps I could become a positive catalyst who might bring a bit of hope to all concerned. Though I don’t yet know if my effort has made a difference. I do have hope.

In the meantime, I rejoice over the many constants which give me joy. God’s love, my family and my writing top the list. Of course, none of these would matter if I didn’t also have the capacity to love and to think and the free will to act upon these things. The Psalmist who offered the wonderful suggestion cited above asks us to be glad and to rejoice. Today, I’m going to accept this invitation. Will you join me?

Dear God, thank you for giving us the capacity to rejoice and the free will to choose to do so.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved