That Loving Fragrance!

And a voice came from the heavens saying,
“This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Matthew 3:17

While dropping off something at church, I couldn’t help noticing the scent of lilies. This was the first time I’d noticed the Easter lilies’ fragrance though they’ve filled the church for weeks. “You are amazing flowers,” I said, fully expecting a few nods in return. Though the blossoms stood motionless, I hoped they sensed my gratitude for the gift they were to me that day. I whispered, “Thank you!” on my way out the door.

We are much like each of those lilies in God’s eyes. If only we’d remember that God treasures each one of us just as we are before we set out on our own. If only we’d hold on to those words, “This is my beloved child, with whom I am well pleased.” Though they may not echo from the clouds above, God speaks those words just the same in the depths of our hearts. They come to life every time we make the difficult, selfless choices which make all of the difference in the world to those around us. These words also come to life when we need God most.

Though those lilies which fill my parish church will likely last only a few more days, their unmistakable fragrance will remain with me. It is a lingering reminder of God’s presence in my life. Just as those lilies adorn church, God singles out you and me to enhance life on this earth, especially the lives of those God has given us to love.

Dear God, what would my life be like if I was not enveloped in your fragrance? What would my life be like without your ever-creative reminders of your love?

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Rest… It’s Okay!

Jesus went into the district of Tyre.
He entered a house and wanted no one to know
about it, but he could not escape notice.

Mark 7:24

I admit that it has taken me a few days to overcome the jet-lag which followed me off the plane when we returned from Israel. While running errands the other day, I was actually grateful for the long line ahead of me. I truly appreciated the opportunity to lean on my grocery cart and to stand still for a few minutes. There was no way I could have done this in Jerusalem’s bustling marketplaces. The people around me rushed among the stands and storefronts in order to make it home or back to work as quickly as possible. Yes, I truly savored these moments of inactivity here at home.

It seems to me that we are all too busy much of the time. My time in Jesus’ homeland assured me that this is nothing new. Jesus experienced the same day in and day out. Though Jesus longed for a bit of peace, there was always someone who needed him more than he needed his rest. This is the reason Jesus rose very early and stole away for quiet time as often as possible. Jesus made it his business to care for others, and, once in a while, to care for himself.

The moral of the story is this: It is perfectly fine and truly necessary to acknowledge our fatigue. When we give in to our aching muscles or our aching psyches and rest, we replenish our spirits. It is in doing so that we find the energy and the will to care for the many others who need us.

Dear God, I am grateful that others occasionally need me. Help me to remember that I occasionally need me as well.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Rest Your Spirit

Jesus went into the district of Tyre.
He entered a house and wanted no one to know
about it, but he could not escape notice.

Mark 7:24

I had been running errands all morning and I was grateful for the long line ahead of me. Oddly enough, I truly appreciated the opportunity to lean on my grocery cart and to stand still for a few minutes. While enjoying this bit of peace, a person ahead of me in line remarked that he would be wealthy if he had a dollar for every minute he spent waiting. As this man hurried out of the store, I chuckled to myself. I had found wealth in these seemingly wasted moments.

It seems to me that all of us are too busy most of the time. This is nothing new, as Jesus experienced the same. Though Jesus longed for a bit of peace, there was always someone who needed him more than he needed his rest. This is the reason Jesus rose very early and stole away for quiet time as often as possible. Jesus made it his business to care for others, and, once in a while, to care for himself.

The moral of the story is this: It is perfectly fine and truly necessary to acknowledge our fatigue because we find the energy and the will to care for others in our own rested spirits.

Dear God, I am grateful that others occasionally need me. Help me to remember that I occasionally need me as well.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God’s Scent

And a voice came from the heavens saying,
“This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Matthew 3:17

As I head to my keyboard to write, the scent of lilies beckons me. This is the first time I have noticed our Easter lily’s fragrance though it has been here for weeks. “You are a strong flower,” I say, fully expecting a satisfied nod in return. Though the blossom stands motionless, I hope it somehow realizes my gratitude for its beauty and its scent. I whisper, “Thank you!”

We are much like my lily in God’s eyes. If only we remember that God singles out each one of us, just as God singles out Jesus, before we set out on our own. If only we hold on to those words, “This is my beloved child, with whom I am well pleased.” Though they may not echo from the clouds above, God speaks those words just the same in the depths of our hearts. They come to life each and every time we make the difficult, selfless choices which make all of the difference in the world to those around us. These words also come to life when we need God most.

Though my lily will likely last only a few more days, its unmistakable fragrance will remain with me. This gift is a lingering reminder of God’s presence in my life. Just as that lily adorns our table, God singles out you and me to enhance life on this earth, especially the lives of those God has given us to love.

Dear God, thank you for your love and for your presence in my life. What would my life be like if I was not enveloped in your fragrance? What would my life be like without these ever-creative reminders of your love?

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Consistent Goodness

“Whoever is not with me is against me,
and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”

From Luke 11:14-23

This third week of Lent, it occurs to me that I have probably thought about the life, words and works of Jesus more during the past twenty-plus days than I have in a very long time. Today’s scripture passage would have thrown me for a loop not so long ago because I would have questioned Jesus’ exclusivity. Since I have spent this Lent getting to know Jesus better, I understand that Jesus is not leaving any one of us out with this remark. Rather, Jesus asks that we live as we should consistently, rather than when it is convenient or “in season.” When we are not living as we should, we are living as we shouldn’t. Consistency is the cure!

Do you recall the numerous charitable efforts in progress during the Christmas Season? It seems everyone tried to do something to help those in need. My parish family collected more than five thousand gifts for more than two thousand people this year. It seems giving is always in season at Christmastime. Unfortunately, poverty and abuse do not adhere to a calendar. Jobs are lost every day, and medical bills mount up regardless of the season. Food pantries have long since distributed their Christmas donations, and the economy has taken its toll on social agencies. Perhaps it is time to extend our Christmas generosity to Lent. Today, I am going to eliminate one non-essential item from my budget and I am going to give what I save to someone who needs it more than I do.

Dear Jesus, because you know me better than I know myself, you know that I mean to do the right thing. Help me to live as I should rather than living as I should not. Give me the generosity and the courage to act on my good intentions and to care for those in need all year long.

©2014 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Our Most Important Work

“Go home to your family and announce to them
all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.”

From Mark 5:1-20

While I was growing up, I had visions of grandeur regarding what I would do with my life. I wanted to solve the problems of the world. I wanted to end wars. I wanted to fight against prejudice and injustice. I wanted to end poverty. I wanted to work with special needs children. I wanted to teach. I wanted to become a nun. I wanted to become a nurse…

When things began to fall into place, the path before me became less cluttered. I learned to value the seemingly mundane vocations that in reality make all of the difference in the world. A good person who deals fairly and kindly with those around her brings peace to our world. Generous couples who allow their love to spill over onto to those around them bring love to the world. Parents who nurture their children with their time and attention bring hope to this world. Caring for those we have been given to love is the most important work we can do.

O Lord, sometimes I wonder if I am doing my loved ones or this world any good. Thank You for the precious moments with them which dispel my doubt.

©2014 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved