God’s Always Listening

Jesus went up to the mountain and
he spent the night in prayer with God.

Luke 6:12

As my husband and I walked along a nearby trail, Mike interrupted the quiet by yelling, “Look at that deer!” Not ten feet away, an amazingly agile buck leapt over fallen trees and browning shrubs. He stopped just a second to look back at us and then continued on his way. When poor Mike looked back at me, he couldn’t figure out why I was responding to this amazing sight with tears. I had to explain that these were tears of joy because that deer was truly an answer to my prayer…

When Mike and I set out for our walk that day, we talked about our kids and grandkids, how we’re all surviving this pandemic and what was next on our stay-at-home agenda. Afterward, we each settled into our own quiet. I admit to talking God’s ear off that morning. I’d been clumsily voicing a concern which is near and dear to me. Just before we encountered that deer, I’d told our patient God that I know that I’m always heard, but that, this time, I needed a little sign. “I haven’t seen a deer in a while,” I dared to say. It was seconds afterward that the buck ran past Mike and me.

When I share my thoughts and worries with God, I know God understands. Though I’ve never heard a word spoken from God’s lips, I have received God’s response in the quiet of the moment, in an unexpected remark from someone nearby or in a suddenly remembered line from a favorite book or hymn. Sometimes, God speaks in the autumn breeze and sometimes God speaks through a galloping buck. Trust me. When we pray and even when we don’t, God finds a way to reach out to us. It’s up to us to take notice.

Good and generous God, let’s talk every day. When I forget, nudge me into conversation as only you can.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God Really Is Everywhere!

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

Matthew 11:28

While growing up, I lived around the corner and down the block from our parish church. This close proximity allowed me the opportunity to drop in whenever I felt the need. I took the term “God’s House” both seriously and literally. I knew in my heart that when I went into church I was in the company of the Almighty. I also knew that I was always welcomed there. I felt quite assured of this because high above the sanctuary in the domed ceiling the words above from Matthew 11:28 were written in gold. What more assurance did I need?

As I grew older, I discovered that God also abides everywhere, most importantly, within each one of us. Regardless of how pressing an issue might be, I learned to talk to God wherever I was, not only in church. Though I still popped into church for impromptu visits, I prayed in earnest wherever I was when circumstances merited this. I’m happy to share that it has become a lifelong habit to converse with God in good times and in bad wherever I am and whenever I’m not talking to someone else. I enjoy sharing these special moments with God whether I’m visiting at the church I call God’s House or in God’s home within me.

Loving God, thank you for inviting me into your consoling company wherever I am.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Just Talk…

Jesus went up to the mountain to pray,
and he spent the night talking to God.

Luke 6:12

For several years, my husband and I taught a class for those interested in learning more about our faith. Though we covered a myriad of topics, my favorite was prayer. We began with commonly known prayers and then shared our own preferences. Mike and I agree that we do our best praying when we simply talk to God. Jesus spent his public life convincing us of God’s unconditional love, acceptance, mercy and concern for each of us. When we take these things to heart, we realize just how intimately God wishes to be connected with us. In my case, I share my deepest concerns only with those by whom I feel accepted and with whom I feel comfortable. Honestly, God tops this list of these precious friends.

I find that talking to God is as natural as talking to a good friend. A friend’s responses come in a knowing smile, a pat on the back or a similar story from his or her experience. Sometimes, we simply sit together, knowing that each of us understands the other. The same is true in our conversations with God. Though I’ve never heard a word spoken from God’s lips, I have received God’s response in the quiet of the moment, in an unexpected remark from a fellow human or in a forgotten line from a favorite book. Sometimes, God speaks in the autumn breeze and sometimes God speaks deep within me. Whenever we take the time to talk with God, God finds a way to respond.

Dear God, let’s talk. I know that you always listen. I’ll do my best to listen, too.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

WANTED: Instruments of Peace

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace…
From The Prayer of St. Francis

The line above is taken from The Prayer of St. Francis which is widely attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. Though the Good Francis would be a worthy author of such powerful words, their origins are elsewhere. Disappointed as I was to learn this, I’ve never been disappointed in this prayer. Though its words may have been strung together by another perceptive soul, this prayer was indeed inspired by Francis’ simple and selfless life.

I turn to this prayer for peace in response to the continued unrest around us. While peaceful protesters make their heartache known, others take advantage of the setting by looting. Political rhetoric deepens our national wounds. The pandemic rages on as some of us put our need to party or our misunderstanding of our personal liberty ahead of the health of those around us. The havoc caused by recent hurricanes and ongoing forest fires continues. Fortunately, the efforts of helpers of every kind continue as well.

As I consider all of this, I wonder what I can do… Perhaps one small step is to actually become an instrument of peace. Perhaps I can do something today to diffuse the anger around me. Perhaps I can do something to promote conversation rather than confrontation. If each of us does something, we will make a difference.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace…

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Short, Sweet and To The Point…

“This is how you are to pray….”
Luke 11:2

Not long ago (and several times before that), my husband observed that what others say in two sentences, I say in two paragraphs. I responded that I simply provide my listeners with important details. Still, I admitted to myself that there is truth in his observation. So it is that I’ve taken his words to heart. While the change in my conversational style is minimal, my ability to listen has improved immensely. Though I’ve always been a good listener, I’d like to think that I’m becoming quite an expert these days. In the process, I’ve discovered that the better part of a good conversation is what my partner has to say.

Jesus seemed to be making a similar point when he taught his disciples how to pray. In spite of all of the psalms and scripture passages available to him, for his lesson, Jesus chose the few and powerful words that would become the Lord’s Prayer. If Jesus shared that prayer today, he might say: Loving God, you are the best parent I will ever have. You who reside in heaven are deserving of my praise. I ask that your will be done because your plans will take me to far better places than my own plans ever will. I ask for my daily bread because you will always provide for me. I ask to be forgiven because you always forgive. I take your care to heart, I forgive those who hurt me and I will care for others as you do. So be it!

Dear God, just as Jesus gave me words with which to pray, give me words to share with those you’ve given me to love today and always.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God’s Listening!

Jesus went up to the mountain to pray,
and he spent the night in conversation with God.

Luke 6:12

The other day, I ran into a friend who’d been part of my husband’s and my last RCIA class. Paul had decided to become a Catholic in order to share the same faith with his wife and children. He told me that he was grateful that he’d journeyed through RCIA with Mike and me. I admit that I walked away with a smile as memories from that year together filled me up.

My favorite topic was prayer. Though we introduced commonly known prayers first, we also shared our own preferences. Mike and I agree that we do our best praying when we simply talk to God. Jesus spent his life among us convincing us of God’s unconditional love, acceptance, mercy and concern for each one of us. If we take these teachings to heart, we realize just how intimately God wishes to be connected with us. In my case, I share my deepest concerns only with those by whom I feel accepted and with whom I feel comfortable. It seems to me that God tops this list of my most precious friends.

You know, talking to God is as natural as talking to one another. So is listening. When I share my deepest thoughts or worries with a friend, I fully expect a response. Sometimes, this comes in a knowing smile, a pat on the back or a similar story from his or her experience. Sometimes, we simply sit together, knowing that each of us understands the other. The same is true in our conversations with God. Though I’ve never heard a word spoken from God’s lips, I have received God’s message in the quiet of the moment, in an unexpected remark from someone I know or a forgotten line in a favorite book. Sometimes, God speaks in the autumn breeze and sometimes I simply know what God is telling me.

Whenever we take the time to talk with God, God finds a way to respond.

Loving God, once again I say, “THANK YOU!”

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved