Is There Something I Can Do?

If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets,
neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.

Luke 16:31

The most frustrating times of my teaching career, and throughout my life for that matter, have occurred when mean-spirited adults refused to do the right thing. At school, it was a teacher who refused to admit an error, a principal who refused to support a teacher whom she didn’t much care for, a lunch monitor who exhibited an attitude toward certain kids or a custodian who took his time when his least favorite teachers called for help. This list, which goes on and on, exists in just about every human institution including our circles of friends and our families. Our school secretary often observed, “Jesus himself could show them different and they’d still act that way!”

Luke’s gospel tells us that a hungry homeless man died on a rich man’s doorstep simply because the man didn’t notice him. When I consider my own annoyance with those who refused to do the right thing at work, I wonder how many times I’ve been guilty of the same. How many times have I avoided or simply not noticed a situation in which I could have done some good? Would it have mattered if Jesus himself had tapped me on the shoulder to get me moving? It occurs to me that perhaps Jesus is tapping at the moment. For some reason, I’m compelled to ask, “What might I have done to help those seemingly mean-spirited people to embrace a more positive stance?” Hmmm… What might I have done?

With that, I see that it’s time that I forget about the omissions of others. Rather, I need to tend to my own ability to take notice and to take care whenever the opportunity arises.

Patient God, help me to see those who need me with your eyes and to respond to them with your heart.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Return The Love With Love

Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant…
Matthew 20:27

Though I don’t often visit cemeteries, I recently did so to celebrate memories of my loved ones. I know I can do this anywhere. Still, I find tangible peace in these places where I expressed my grief through my tears and spoke my final farewells. Though the remains of all of the people whom I’ve lost weren’t buried in this particular place, each one came to mind as I gazed over rows of monuments which seemed to go on for infinity.

As I considered these loved ones, I realized the reason I miss them so. In one way or another, each one enriched my life. Even when some of them weren’t at their best, they touched me in extremely important ways. Perhaps the most powerful trait which these good souls share is their consistent willingness to put others before themselves. Even when circumstances forced them into acts of generosity and selflessness, they rose to these occasions with grace and kindness.

As I recounted their good deeds, I couldn’t help smiling. I looked up to my loved ones in their afterlife abodes and whispered, “How can I thank you for doing all that you did for me?” Though I “heard” nothing in response, I had the distinct feeling that doing the same for those I have been given to love would be quite enough.

Generous God, thank you for the amazing people who have enriched my life. Help me to do the same for those I meet along the way.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Relax and Enjoy!

Come to me,
all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

I’ve been on a roll with my writing. I’ve been on a roll with everything for that matter as I need to be caught up. We’re happily awaiting the birth of our newest grandchild and Grandpa and I want to be ready. We’ll take care of big brother when Mommy and Daddy leave for the hospital. The name of the game these days is “Hurry Up and Be Ready”. While I celebrate these happy circumstances, I admit that I’m a little tired…

I abandoned this writing for just a minute to get a drink of water. While in the kitchen, a tap on the window drew my attention. It was far too windy for her to rest out in the open, so a lovely white dove nestled into the large flowerpot outside our patio door. Such visitors usually fly off when I draw near, but she remained to stare back at me and to tap again. A ray of sunlight caused her feathers to take on a heavenly aura. I scratched my head as I wonder what she was up to. That dove’s contented look indicated that she wasn’t wondering a thing about me. When our gazes met, I realized that I haven’t relaxed at all today. Did this lovely dove know that she reminded me to slow down and to do just that?

When I left that sweet bird to her rest, I returned to my keyboard to share her story with you. As soon as I proof this writing, I’m going to grab a book I’m reading. That book and I will retreat to our screened porch where I’ll read until it’s time to start dinner. For this, I thank you, Ms. Dove!

Loving God, thank you for your well-timed reminders to set aside my work, to relax and to enjoy life.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Do Something!

Should anyone press you into service for one mile,
go with him for two miles.
Give to the one who asks of you,
and do not turn your back on the one in need.

Matthew 5:41-42

I know I’ve shared this before. I’ve been having difficulty picking up the newspaper and listening to the news. Though our ability to receive information from all over the world in a nanosecond is remarkable, it’s also overwhelming. I’ve been aware of this world’s suffering since childhood. Still, today’s readily available images of all of this is almost too much to bear. How must those who endure this suffering feel? When I consider that human beings in power see these terrible circumstances firsthand, I’m even more hard-pressed to understand why nothing is done to help. Though our compassion for the suffering inspires much prayer, effort and sharing of resources on many of our parts, the suffering which persists continues to overwhelm all concerned.

Today is different. I turned to the television news and newspaper as soon as I awoke. I searched for any information regarding the coach and young hikers in Thailand who’ve been trapped in a deep mountainside cave. Locating them alive was the first of a list of seemingly impossible hurdles which has driven a worldwide effort to get them to safety. The key here is “worldwide”. Capable people from this country and six other nations have joined Thailand in this effort. At this writing, they continue to work together to save these boys and their coach. Their single concern is to bring each one to safety as quickly as possible.

Today, my hope in our ability to respond to this world’s suffering is renewed. While you and I do what we can individually in this regard, our nations are working together to do the same. Though this effort may seem small in the grand scheme of things, it means everything to those boys and their coach!

Loving God, thank you for caring for us and for sharing this skill with us.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Tangible Reminders of God’s Love

God is love…
From 1 John 4:16

While checking to see if the bushes alongside our house were in need of trimming, I found the remains of a burned sparkler. On July 4, I hadn’t noticed anyone with sparklers nearby. Perhaps the morning’s wind had relocated it. As I continued to examine the bushes, my thoughts turned to our July 4th fireworks.

We live near enough to an amusement park to enjoy their annual fireworks display. When our neighborhood trees weren’t so tall, we gathered with our lawn chairs in the center of our cul-de-sac to watch the always-breath-taking display. The trees have grown and our line of vision has shrunk, so we carry our chairs a bit closer to the amusement park’s “launch pad.” Though our view of each colorful burst was unobstructed, the fireworks seemed far away to me this year. If only I could’ve been a little closer…

This minor disappointment gave me reason to consider other occasions when I wished I’d been a little closer. When life’s struggles threaten, I sometimes feel alone as I prepare to face them. It’s only after further thought and following my propensity to look upward for assistance that I realize that I’m never alone in anything. Regardless of the joy or sorrow I encounter, God’s love is the constant which will never ever change. Indeed, God’s love accompanies me through everything.

God of Love, through I’m enjoying a pleasant day, many of your children are struggling. Help us to be tangible reminders of your love to those who need you most.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

W is for…

Let integrity and uprightness preserve me…
From Psalm 25:21

W is for Write. I realize that there are many more meaningful words which begin with “w”. I chose “write” because this is what I need to be doing at the moment. I’m in the midst of writing a book which is very important to me. Perhaps a reader or two will find it has meaning for them as well. The process, however, is grueling at best. I get on a role for a day or two or three only to be interrupted by what I call “real life”.

For some time now, a “real life” situation has sapped my energy and my creativity. I attribute this to my genuine concern for those involved. I think that we all need to invest our time in the concerns which matter to us and to those we love. Because I needed to clear my head regarding all this, I retreated to the outdoors. In the midst of that much-needed walk, I recalled several people who’ve approached me over the past few months to thank me for these posts and for my Sunday reflections which appear in our parish bulletin. I told myself, “My writing seems to be important to a lot of people including myself.” As soon as I said that, I had to wonder if the energy and worry I’d invested in that bit of “real life” was equally important. As I walked on, I admitted that I’ve already done everything within my power to help. Aside from praying for those concerned, there truly is no more for me to do.

With that, I returned home. I whispered a prayer regarding that situation and then sat at my keyboard to write this post and to begin the next chapter of my book.

Loving God, thank you for the inspiration and for the faithful readers who join me in taking it to heart.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved