Worth The Effort

As for you, every hair of your head has been counted;
so do not be afraid of anything.

Matthew 10:30

A recent gathering with extended family allowed me to watch as my nieces and nephews interacted. Their good-hearted banter brought to mind my sister and brother who celebrate with us from the hereafter these days. Before it could be detected, I dabbed an unexpected tear from my cheek. Perhaps my recent reflections regarding the things to come have come full circle. When I returned home afterward, I strolled to our wall of family photos. I smiled at the images of my brother and sister, my parents, grandparents and many others. All the while, I consoled myself with the certainty that they’re all just fine in their new home with God.

My certainty regarding the things to come began with my mom and dad. Later in college, I encountered the work of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross who pioneered near-death experience studies. Her research regarding life after this life underscored what my faith had already convinced me was true. Throughout the decades since, many medical professionals have added to her research. More recently, two physicians (Dr. Eben Alexander and Dr. Mary C. Neal) who’ve had near-death experiences themselves have added to this wisdom.

I don’t mean to repeat myself in these daily posts. However, sometimes a topic is so important to me and to all of us that I’m compelled to do so. With that, I encourage you to do the best you can to live a happy, generous and productive life. I also encourage you to remember that you are never ever alone and that all you do is worth the effort.

Loving God, help us to remember that you are with us in everything always.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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We NEVER Walk Alone!

A few weeks ago, I finished my umpteenth reading of a favorite book which addresses the afterlife and our own struggles as we make our way there. As I closed the familiar volume, I wondered if the author had written anything more recently. When I entered his name online, images appeared of my now-ragged paperback and two additional titles. I immediately announced to my poor husband that we should expect a package in the next few days as I was ordering both new books and two extra copies of my favorite. Since my copy is no longer suitable to share, I need these extra copies to lend to interested friends. After placing that order, I went to the fullest and most frequently visited shelf of my bookcase. Though I’d intended to purge my collection to make room for my newly discovered prizes, I realized that I couldn’t part with any of my books.

I’ve been a student of death and dying since childhood. By the time I was nine years old, my uncle, both grandfathers and my dad had passed away. My remaining family members responded to these losses with absolute faith in our loved ones’ newfound heavenly bliss and I fully believed them in this regard. Still, when I began college and discovered that there were sources other than the Bible and catechisms to be found which address death and life after death, I immediately enrolled in a class which explored these topics. One of our required textbooks was written by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, a medical pioneer who defined the stages of dying as she cared for her terminal patients. Dr. Kubler-Ross is also likely the first medical doctor to admit publicly that she believed her patients’ seemingly incredible stories regarding their near-death experiences and the hereafter. It’s safe to say that I’ve read almost every book written on these topics since. I admit that, when given the chance, I can speak ad infinitum regarding all of this. When asked why I’m so interested in these things, I consistently answer from my heart: “They remind me that this life is do-able and worth all of our effort!”

The numerous determined authors who chronicle the stories of others or who write of their own experiences in these areas do so because they can’t help sharing their remarkable news with all who will listen. My favorite book and its counterparts have certainly added a new dimension to my faith and substantiated my hope regarding eternal life. These writings inspire me to plug away regardless of the difficulties at hand because I know what lies ahead at the end of this journey. I’m quite certain they’ve done the same for many who journey with me.

On this Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate Jesus’ efforts in convincing his disciples of the same. Jesus’ years of teaching through both his word and his example had been blurred in the midst of his passion and death and throughout the days which followed. The disciples felt terribly alone. Fear paralyzed them and they hid, wondering all the while if they, too, would hang from a cross. In spite of all that Jesus had said and done, they trembled. Though Jesus could have moved on to heaven without looking back, he returned to encourage his friends. Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene to offer her the gift his peace. When Jesus appeared among Peter and the rest, he didn’t chastise or rebuke them for deserting him. He didn’t review his lessons or question their understanding. The first thing Jesus said to them was, “Peace be with you.” Jesus’ purpose throughout these post-resurrection encounters was to fill up the disciples with his enduring presence and his enduring peace. If they believed that Jesus was with them in everything, they would endure. If they believed that they would survive their own deaths as Jesus had, they would prosper. Jesus’ final lesson assured all who would listen that this life is indeed do-able because none of them would be alone in their efforts. One day, each one would cross into eternal life just as well.

The scriptures tell us that, after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, the disciples returned to hiding. So it was that on the first Pentecost God’s Holy Spirit rushed in with a dramatic reminder of God’s enduring peace and presence in their lives. The wind and rumbling walls quickly drew their attention, renewed their hope and nudged them into action. The fire within them finally ignited fully and urged them out onto the streets of Jerusalem to spread God’s word. Suddenly, the things to come seemed within reach and the disciples’ lives became do-able after all.

As for me, I’ll continue to read about our journeys into the afterlife. Every word will underscore my conviction that God’s peace abounds and that God is with us in everything regardless of how alone we may feel at times. With every page I turn, I will celebrate this reality and reaffirm my conviction that, when all is said and done, this life is do-able and worth all of our effort. None of us will ever walk alone and we’ll all end this journey in God’s good company.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Inspiring Choices

As for you, every hair of your head has been counted;
so do not be afraid of anything.

Matthew 10:30

My recurring need to de-clutter recently drew me to the shelves filled with my favorite books. I purchase only those volumes which I will never be able to give up. Thus, going through my books with the intent to discard any of them is an exercise in futility. Still, my good intentions provided me the opportunity to peruse the literary treasures which have enriched my life.

I will always be grateful for these amazing authors. Though our encounters were not face-to-face, they were certainly life-changing. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross pioneered near-death experience studies. I first read her work for a college class on death and dying. This scientific research regarding life after this life underscored what my faith had already convinced me was true. While she endured ridicule from others in her field, Kübler-Ross persisted. In the aftermath, many medical professionals have substantiated and added to her research. Recent books by Dr. Eben Alexander and Dr. Mary C. Neal now belong to my collection. Both describe their own near death experiences in great detail.

Early on, I also read Nobel Laureate and Holocaust Survivor Elie Wiesel. This amazing man’s stalwart spirit sustained him through one of human history’s most heinous episodes. His endurance continues to inspire me during the difficulties with which our world wrestles today.

My author friends are not the only ones who have touched me with their amazing faith, hope and strength. Brave souls in the daily news and in my own backyard continue to inspire much of what I do. It occurs to me that you and I also inspire others when we follow our hearts in matters great and small.

Generous God, help us to inspire one another with the good and brave choices we make every day.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Never Fear

“As for you, every hair of your head has been counted;
so do not be afraid of anything.”
From Matthew 10:28-33

I will always be grateful for the amazing authors I met in college. Though these were not face-to-face encounters, they were certainly life-changing. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross pioneered near-death experience studies. I read her work for a class on death and dying. The good doctor’s scientific research regarding life after this life underscored what my faith had already convinced me was true. While she endured ridicule from others in her field, Kübler-Ross persisted. In the aftermath, many well-respected medical professionals have substantiated and added to her research.

I read Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel for philosophy class. This amazing man’s stalwart spirit sustained him through one of human history’s most heinous episodes. His endurance has inspired me during difficult times throughout my adult life.

These authors touched me with the amazing strength they exhibited in the face of adversity. In both cases, the truths they unveiled are worthy of consideration by us all.

Loving God, even Jesus met adversity along the way. Help me not to fear the bumps in the road ahead because you will walk over them or around them with me.

©2014 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved