And So I Pray…

Then he said, “Dear God, please don’t be angry,
but let me speak just once more…”

Genesis 18:32

Our stay-at-home circumstances have allowed me to drift into contemplative mode more often than usual. This is usually a good thing. This week, however, I’ve had thoughts of the bittersweet variety. Today is my younger sister’s birthday. My only brother’s birthday will follow in a few days. The good news for both of them is that they are celebrating in a place far better than our COVID-19 ridden world.

Throughout their lives, I often wished that I could have made this life a little easier for these siblings. Since childhood, I prayed often for both. As soon as I had God’s attention, I pleaded and negotiated for this or that circumstance to take a turn for the better. By the time my sister and brother had reached adulthood, I’d become quite good at ordering God around on their behalf. I did this because each of them had weathered tough times and I’d too often forgotten that God had been with them through it all. Today, I have no doubt that my dear siblings would live their lives over again just as those lives were if God asked them to do so. They probably chuckle together often over my continued efforts to direct God’s part in all of this. Silly me!

Yes, I can be very silly in my efforts to order God to make things better for my fellow humans. If only I prayed something like, “Thy will be done.” Unfortunately, I more often plead that my will be done. After all, who knows better what my loved ones need than I? Oops! Yes, Lord, once again I acknowledge that you know best of all!

Loving and Patient God, thank you for listening and for responding to my loved ones needs with more love than I could ever hope for. Thank you, Dear God, for running things far more efficiently than I ever could. Amen!

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Welcome Home!

Peace and mercy on all who follow this rule of life
and on the Israel of God.

From Galatians 6:15-16

As our plane made its descent toward Ben Gurion International Airport, I experienced a palpable sense of peace. I felt as though I was on my way to a family reunion…

Several years earlier, my husband and I traveled to Croatia to meet his cousins there. Later, we traveled to Sicily to find his grandparents’ hometown. Still later, we flew to Quebec to meet my father’s family. On each of these occasions, we experienced a heartwarming sense of belonging. As we gathered our luggage in the airport in Tel Aviv, I experienced the same in Israel -even more so than I had before.

When we boarded the bus for our hotel, our driver welcomed us. She explained that she was with us only for this first bus ride. Our new driver and the guide I’d come to know so well during our previous trips would see to it that we were warmly welcomed once again on the following day.

As I listened, I realized I didn’t necessarily need to be welcomed after all. My own story had begun in Israel long ago. The one whom they called “Teacher” had laid the foundation for everything of importance to me. When he revealed the essence of God’s love, Jesus also revealed our capacity to love one another. I wouldn’t be the woman, child, sibling, wife, mom, grandma and friend I am today if I hadn’t taken those lessons to heart. Though we may not be blood relatives, Jesus and I are family just the same. Though I wasn’t born in the area as Jesus was, he was part of me. What a homecoming this trip to Israel would be!

Loving God, thank you for the many homecomings I’ve experience along the way.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

We Are Family!

How great is the goodness, O Lord,
which you have in store…

From Psalm 31:20

A month or so ago, my husband and I attended Mass at church we’d never visited before. Though the building was much different from our own parish church, we felt most welcomed and very much at home. As we joined in to pray, we felt as though we’d been a part of this community forever…

I’m always inspired by our gatherings to pray together. Whether for a wedding, a funeral or weekend worship, I find cohesiveness in our common intent and in our shared meal. Regardless of what seems to separate us outside– our politics, our tendencies to the left or to the right, our likes and dislikes, our opinions regarding just about everything– when we gather at God’s table, we’re God’s children in the truest sense. Indeed, we are one.

Sometimes, I turn from my prayer or the hymn at hand to take in those around me. I never cease to be amazed by the beauty in the variety of faces who’ve gathered to pray together. Not one of us is exactly like another. Even identical twins cannot hide their uniqueness. Still, we are welcome. All of us are welcome to God’s house. The truth is, we are welcome, every one of us, into this world and into this life. Why? We’re God’s family -all of us!

Loving God, be with us as we open our arms and our hearts to each other. Help us to see those around us as family -your family- wherever we meet..

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

My Persistent Prayer

Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry,
but let me speak just once more…”

Genesis 18:32

This past week has been filled with memories of the bittersweet variety as my sister’s and brother’s birthdays have come and gone. Both celebrate in a better place these days. Still, how often I’ve wished that I could have made this life a little easier for them.

Since childhood, I prayed often for brother and sister. As soon as I had God’s attention, I pleaded and negotiated for this or that circumstance to take a turn for the better. By the time my siblings had reached adulthood, I’d become quite good at ordering around the Lord God on their behalf. The truth is that God had been with my sister and brother in everything. God was there and took care as only God can. Today, I have no doubt that my dear siblings would live their lives over again just as those lives were if God asked them to do so. They probably chuckle together often over my continued efforts to direct God’s attention to the issues at hand.

As for me, day in and day out, I apologize to our patient God for my insolent and demanding prayer. I also thank God for running things far more efficiently than I ever could. Afterward, I continue to pray as politely as possible.

Loving and Patient God, thank you for listening and for responding with more love than I could ever hope for.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Another Homecoming

Peace and mercy on all who follow this rule of life
and on the Israel of God.

From Galatians 6:15-16

As our plane made its descent toward Ben Gurion International Airport, I experienced an unexpected sense of peace. For reasons unknown to me, I felt as though I was on my way to a family reunion.

Several years ago, my husband and I traveled to Croatia to meet his cousins there. Later, we traveled to Sicily to find his grandparents’ hometown. Last fall, we flew to Quebec to meet my father’s family. On each of these occasions, we experienced a heartwarming sense of belonging. As we gathered our luggage in the airport in Tel Aviv, I somehow knew that I’d experience the same in Israel.

When we boarded the bus for our hotel, a young tour guide welcomed us. Ben’s American accent surprised me. He explained that he’d grown up in the United States but had studied in Israel. When he returned to the U.S.A. afterward, Ben realized that Israel had become his home. He returned with the hope of marrying an Israeli woman and raising his family there. Ben happily went on to share that he and his wife are doing just that.

As I listened to Ben’s story, I realized that my own story began in Israel long ago. The one whom they called “Teacher” laid the foundation for everything of importance to me. When he revealed the essence of God’s love, Jesus also revealed our capacity to love one another. I wouldn’t be the woman, child, sibling, wife, mom, grandma and friend I am today if I hadn’t taken these lessons to heart. Though we may not be blood relatives, Jesus and I are family just the same. What a homecoming this trip to Israel would be!

Loving God, thank you for the many homecomings I’ve experienced.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

One Family

How great is the goodness, O Lord,
which you have in store…

From Psalm 31:20

A few weeks ago, my husband-the-deacon traveled to another parish to witness a wedding. A scheduling mix-up at our own parish prompted this change of venue. As it happened, the couple was blessed with a beautiful day on which to celebrate this special event. My husband and I had attended Mass at this church long ago and we both enjoyed this reunion of sorts. Though I hadn’t been there in decades, I felt welcomed and very much at home.

I often reflect upon our gatherings to pray together, whether for a wedding, a funeral or weekend worship. I find cohesiveness in our common intent and in our shared meal. Regardless of what separates us outside– our politics, our tendencies to the left or to the right, our likes and dislikes, our opinions regarding just about everything– when we gather at God’s table, we’re God’s children in the truest sense. Indeed, we are one.

You know, I never cease to be amazed by the beauty in the variety of faces who gather to pray on these occasions. Not one of us is exactly like another. Even identical twins cannot hide their uniqueness. Still, we are welcome, every one of us, to God’s table. The truth is, we are welcome, every one of us, into this world and into this life as God’s child.

Loving God, regardless of where we worship you, open our arms and our hearts to each other. Help us to see those around us as our family, wherever we meet..

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved