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’d 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 far too often. 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. The moral of the story is: Rest when you need to!

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

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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All God’s Children

Never act our of rivalry or conceit;
rather let all parties think humbly of others
as superior to themselves, each of you looking to
others’ interests rather than to your own.

Philippians 2:3-4

The first leg of trip to Israel (pardon the pun) “flew” by without incident. Our layover provided another opportunity to get to know our fellow travelers a little better. The TSA staff who oversaw our international boarding were kind and reassuring perhaps in response to our cooperative adherence to the necessary protocol. In the midst of locating our seats and stowing our carry-on bag, I whispered a prayer of gratitude to the Almighty for the good people around me. After a quick meal, I nuzzled into my seat with another prayer, this time for sleep.

A few hours later, hushed movements roused me from my sleep. Several Hasidic Jewish families had joined us on this flight. It was around 4:00 AM when the men among them moved toward the back of the plane to gather. I learned later that they pray together at given intervals every day. I admit that my first reaction to this disruption was annoyance. The gentleman behind me woke me when he grabbed my seat-back to help himself up. The gentleman across from me unwittingly hit me several times with his prayer shawl while trying to position it over his shoulders. It was only when I realized that they were heading off to pray that my attitude softened. With that, I whispered another prayer, this time to ask forgiveness for my impatience with these fellows who were likely as sleepy as I was.

You and I are surrounded by God’s other children much of the time. We belong to families and neighborhoods, faith communities, social clubs, service organizations and sports teams. As I consider them all, I see their common thread. Each one reminds me that I live not only for myself, but also for many others. My middle-of-the-night prayerful friends do the same.

Loving God, help me to appreciate your other children as you do.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Remember… Respond…

“Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you.
And know that I am with you always…”

Matthew 28:20

While searching an infrequently visited drawer, I found a tiny plate which can’t be more than 5 inches in diameter. This antiquated memento features a sketch of President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy. Though this chipped bit of porcelain isn’t fine artwork, it elicited a smile. I quickly recalled the enthusiasm of Catholics who marveled at the possibility of a Catholic president. Though I didn’t know much else about him, I cheered when he was elected. When Mr. Kennedy offered his inaugural speech, I learned something about this man and his hope for the future. Our new president told us, “…ask not what your country can do for you-ask what you can do for your country.” At the time, I wondered what I could do.

Though I was only in elementary school during this presidency, I recall Khrushchev’s rants and our fear of communism. I recall the worry surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis and the relief over its resolution. Though we fretted and prayed about such things, I felt safe. Then, On November 22, 1963, everything changed. 1036 days into his term, President Kennedy was killed by an assassin.

On this ominous anniversary, regardless of our religious and political affiliations, I think we all have good reason to respond to Mr. Kennedy’s request. Today, I’m going to stop wondering what I can do and I’m going to do something.

Patient and merciful God, you know our imperfections better than we know them ourselves. Still, you place your trust in us to care for this world and for one another. Today, inspire us all to do something to ensure that your trust is well-placed.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Together, We Can

The LORD called me from birth.
From my mother’s womb, he gave me my name.

From Isaiah 49:1

I watched with amazement as gallons and gallons of water filled the gathering space at church. This Lent, my parish is attempting to make works of mercy part of our daily lives as best we can. We’ve collected groceries and clothing for the food pantry, diapers and baby clothes for mothers in need and water for Flint, Michigan. When I added my own donation to the growing mound before me, I was struck by the impact which each bottle will have on its recipient.

Have you ever questioned your place in this world? Have you ever wondered if the things you do every day make a real difference to anybody? Though I ponder these things more often than I care to admit, that growing mountain of water bottles interrupts my soul-searching for the time being. Though I will likely never meet anyone who benefits from this flood of generosity, I have no doubt that this effort will make a difference to each one of them.

I began Lent 2016 with the intent of eliminating “I”, “me” and “my” from the concerns before me. In the past, I’ve found that when I focus on others my own troubles take care of themselves. When I become overwhelmed by this focus, I must admit that this is the result of trying to do everything myself. That mountain of water would never have appeared if it was solely my doing. However, each of us did our part and look what happened! There is a lesson here…

Patient God, who ever told me that I have to do it all? Thank you for urging me to put myself back on my list of concerns.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved