Comfort Them As Only You Can

Say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
…They will meet with joy and gladness.

From Isaiah 35:4-10

Gift Weekend at my parish church was a huge success. Hundreds of my fellow parishioners arrived for Mass with gifts they’d purchased for needy children and teens. The tremendous need which was met turned my thoughts to some of my students from long ago…

Most of the children in my classroom could hardly wait for Christmas. There were a few, however, who dreaded Christmas vacation. They found comfort in the structure of our classroom where the expected almost always came to fruition. Their school lunch was often the best of their meals and our simple class parties were the best of their Christmases. More sadly, the lack of material treasures in their lives paled in the shadow of their lack of security. The adults around them, heavily burdened with their own troubles, didn’t have the luxury of detecting the hopelessness growing in their children’s eyes.

My thoughts wander further to a child of long ago. While Joseph searched for a place where Mary could give birth, Mary focused upon the child within her. When they finally settled among the livestock that night, perhaps Joseph arranged the hay in that manger while Mary labored. Though it wasn’t much, that warm hay provided the best bed Mary and Joseph could offer Jesus that night. Perhaps the best we can do for those in need around us is to provide them with our own variety of hay. Though it may not be much, our best is always enough to those in need and to God.

God of love, help me to comfort those who need you most with my own variety of hay.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Bits of Peace…

Take care of this vine,
and protect what my hand has planted.

From Psalm 80:16

This first week of Advent, I continue my efforts to bring a bit of God’s peace to my little corner of the world. At the same time, I’ve had a bit of trouble maintaining the peace within and around me. It’s so difficult to feel at peace these days!

My little family and I are generously blessed. I express my gratitude to the Lord God daily –sometimes several times a day- for this. I cannot count how often I give thanks for the little things which compel me to smile so often. Still, others for whom I care deeply suffer greatly. Add to this the woes of our world and you see why I’m troubled. I feel helpless as there isn’t much that I can do to alleviate most of this. So it is that I pray for peace. I pray that peace will come to those I know and to all the world.

When nothing seems to change, I become impatient. I order God to take care of things. “I wouldn’t talk to you this way,” I say, “if you’d fix this!” It’s usually after such a conversation that I run into these loved ones. They share that, though all isn’t well, God is with them and they’re at peace. The same is true for the rest of the world. That occasional bit of good news renews my hope. In the face of these things, I turn to God once again. This time, I apologize and renew my promise to spread peace everywhere I go.

Patient God, thank you for your patient love and for trusting us with your peace.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Seeds of Peace

Take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted.

Psalm 80:16

As this second week of Advent comes to an end, I continue my effort to bring God’s peace to my little corner of the world. Our Christmas shopping is nearly finished and I’m most grateful. Still, I’ve had a bit of trouble maintaining the peace within and around me. It’s so difficult these days!

My little family and I are generously blessed. I express my gratitude to the Lord God daily –sometimes several times a day- for this. I also cannot count how often I give thanks for the little things which compel me to smile so often. Still, others for whom I care deeply suffer greatly. Add to this the woes of our world and you see why I’m troubled. I wonder what I can do to alleviate any of this.

So it is that I pray for peace within those I know and in the rest of this world. When nothing seems to change, my impatience compels me to order the Almighty to take care of things. “I wouldn’t talk to you this way,” I say, “if you’d fix this!” It’s usually after such a conversation that I run into a loved one. He or she shares that, though all isn’t well, God is within and they’re at peace. The same is true with the rest of the world. When I’m most tempted to lose hope, a random peacemaker across the ocean makes the nightly news. It’s then that I kneel to apologize and to renew my promise to share God’s peace.

Patient God, thank you for trusting each of us with your peace.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

‘Tis the Season…

Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O God, I lift up my soul.

Psalm 86:4

I can still smell the turkey. This is quite a phenomenon since we ate our son’s house yesterday. Still, in spite of the lingering aromas in my psyche, Thanksgiving Day is fading into memory. Some shoppers headed out before the leftovers were put away last night. Others left their beds in the wee hours this morning to take advantage of sales. Many who are working today will go directly to the mall afterward with the hope that their wish list items are still available. Overnight, the Christmas Shopping Season made its stealth entrance quite effectively.

If you haven’t given much thought to Christmas yet, don’t worry. Though today’s sales will make a dent in store inventories, those empty shelves will be filled again soon enough. Retailers will seek your contribution to the cause for the duration. In the mean time, I invite you to join me in letting go of the holiday frenzy and in reaching out for a measure of peace.

I’ve decided to tackle the tasks which lie ahead in small increments. I’m going to shop when I can, but NOT until I drop. I’ll save the rest for another day. My husband and I will decorate indoors and outdoors in the same fashion. We enjoy the Christmas Season best of all and we hope to have the energy to attend to every minute of it. In the process, we’ll avoid the weariness which comes with trying to do too much in too little time.

So it is that I invite you to join me in finding ways to remove just a bit of the hustle and bustle of the season from your life. I also invite you to enjoy the little things along the way. You truly deserve to do so!

Loving God, gift us all with a touch of your peace as we prepare the way to Christmas.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

We Share Our Hay

Say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
…They will meet with joy and gladness,
sorrow and mourning will flee.

From Isaiah 35:4-10

A recent trip to Target brought me back to my classroom where I joined my students in counting the days to Christmas vacation. Most of the children found nothing better than freedom from school schedules and homework. A mother in the toy aisle who seemed to be struggling with her Christmas budget brought to mind those children who dreaded Christmas vacation. They found comfort in the structure of our classroom where the expected almost always came to fruition. Their school lunch was often the best of their meals and our simple class parties were the best of their Christmases. More sadly, the lack of material treasures in their lives paled in the shadow of their lack of security. The adults around them, heavily burdened with their own troubles, didn’t have the luxury of detecting the hopelessness growing in their children’s eyes.

My thoughts wander to a child of long ago. While Joseph searched for a place where Mary could give birth, Mary focused upon the child within. When they finally settled among the livestock that night, perhaps Joseph arranged the hay in that manger while Mary labored. Though it wasn’t much, that warm hay provided the best bed Mary and Joseph could offer Jesus that night. Perhaps the best we can do for those in need around us is to provide them with our own variety of hay. Though it may not be much, our best is always enough to those in need and to God.

God of love, help me to comfort those who need you most with my own variety of hay.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Sow Peace!

Take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted.

Psalm 80:16

This second week of Advent, I continue in my efforts to bring a bit of God’s peace to my little corner of the world. Our Christmas shopping is nearly finished, and I am grateful. Still, I’ve had a bit of trouble maintaining the peace within and around me. It is so difficult to find it these days!

My little family and I are generously blessed. I express my gratitude to the Lord God daily –sometimes several times a day- for this. I cannot count how often I give thanks for the little things which compel me to smile so often. Still, others for whom I care deeply suffer greatly. Add to this the woes of our world and you see why I am troubled. I feel helpless as there isn’t much that I can do to alleviate most of this. So it is that I pray that peace will come to those I know and to the rest of this world. When nothing seems to change, I become impatient and begin ordering the Almighty to take care of things. “I wouldn’t talk to you this way,” I say, “if you’d fix this!” It is usually after such a conversation that I run into these loved ones. They share that, though all is not well, God is with them and they are at peace. The same is true with the rest of the world. When I am most tempted to lose hope, a father across the ocean explains to his little son that flowers are far more powerful than guns. It is then that I kneel before God to apologize and to renew my promise to share the peace of Christmas.

Patient God, thank you for trusting each of us with your peace.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved