More Than A Statistic

There was an inscription over his head:
THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS

From Luke 23:38

The Ninth Station: Jesus Falls The Third Time

Jerusalem is an extremely busy place. It was the same in Jesus’ day. Though I can’t imagine ignoring the approach of a bloodied man carrying a cross beam, many who went about their business that dark Friday did just that. The ominous presence of Roman soldiers kept busy business people and shoppers on their own way and off Jesus’ path. If they noticed, none had the courage to respond when Jesus fell. No one cared that this one was far more than the King of the Jews.

When I walked the streets of Jerusalem the first time, I was taken by the narrowness of those busy byways. Oddly, the locals navigated between and around one another quite easily. I wondered if we tourists were simply a part of the landscape to which they’d become accustomed. When I turned my thoughts back to Jesus’ day, I wondered further. Was Jesus just a part of the landscape as well? Was Jesus just another statistic in the vast database of Roman cruelty?

As for you and me, whether we’re standing upright or crumpled under the weight of our troubles, God takes notice. We’re never a statistic in God’s database. We’re on God’s mind and in God’s heart… ALWAYS!

Dear God, you love us more than we realize. Help us to share that love with those we meet along the way.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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God Lifts Us Up

The people stood there watching
and the leaders kept jeering at him…

From Luke 23:55

The Seventh Station: Jesus Falls The Second Time

When I was in The Holy Land, I walked in the vicinity of Jesus’ trek to his own crucifixion. I learned that the walk to Golgotha wasn’t as long as one might think. The Romans carried out their crucifixions fairly close to the city gates, perhaps for their own security. We don’t know how often Jesus fell under that crossbeam. Still, I feel certain that he fell. Again, I wonder why he got up.

I’ve shared over the past several months that I’d had an encounter with my own variety of suffering. Though this experience was nothing in the shadow of Jesus’ passion, I struggled just the same. It seemed that every time I felt I’d overcome my misery, a tiny reminder crept up to insist that this wasn’t the case. Still, when I lay under the weight of each relapse, God’s presence around me and within me urged me up to try again. I can only imagine that Jesus sensed the same every step of the way. During his life among us, Jesus took every opportunity to steal away from the crowds to seek his Beloved Parent’s company. When he fell under the weight of that wood, it was only natural for Jesus to turn to the One who knew every detail of his suffering. It was only natural for that One to respond. Jesus got up because of the Divine Presence which accompanied him.

Every time the trials and tribulations of this life cause us to fall, God who endures our suffering with us urges us up as well.

Loving God, thank you for your good company.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Choose To Get Up

But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole.

Isaiah 53:5

The Third Station: Jesus Falls Under the Weight of the Cross

It isn’t hard to imagine Jesus falling beneath the weight of that cross. What is unfathomable is that he got up, not once, but likely several times.

I shudder as I consider the many times I’ve tried to walk away from the difficulties which have come my way. “If only this or if only that,” I tell myself. Sometimes, I turn these laments into prayer. After all, God is all-powerful; God can certainly remove my burdens. It is then that I picture Jesus struggling with that merciless wood which scrapes across his bleeding back. In spite of the pain, Jesus holds on.

You know, God created each one of us with free will. Of what value would our acts of kindness and forgiveness and love be if we were programmed to do these things? No, God has left it up to us to evolve into our highest selves. So it is that I will face today as Jesus faced that terrible Friday so long ago. So it is that I will face what this day brings with a morsel of Jesus’ courage and his love.

Loving God, help me to see every challenge as an opportunity to bring my best self to the moment.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Gifts Everywhere!

Let rivers clap their hands,
the mountains shout with them for joy
before the Lord.”

Psalm 98 III:7-9

The four seasons captivate me, each one with its own variety of nature’s grandeur. Spring arrives with only the slightest hints of renewed life-in-the-making. Summer brings hope-fulfilled in lush green carpets of grass and blossoms of every color. Though fall’s sometimes gloomy days replace summer’s vibrancy too quickly, its own colors renew my fascination with the outdoors. Yet, in spite of all of this beauty, I find myself most taken in by the coldest season of the year. The other day, blustering winds hinted at winter’s impending arrival. I realized that winter will soon draw me in with its onslaught of snow and cold perhaps a bit sooner than I’d hoped. Still, I find nothing more beautiful than an ice-clad tree or an undisturbed expanse of hardened snow. Add the crunch of that snow under my feet and a chilling wind around me and I am in outdoor heaven!

Having written that, I see that the piles of leaves I raked this morning now flutter about in the wind. They crackle as they fly and I wonder if they’re actually laughing at my wasted effort. Mounds of snow will require similar and perhaps equally futile attention when they arrive in not too many weeks. Still, I look forward to winter.

You see, it is during winter that most living things lie dormant beneath the surface. To me, they symbolize the potential to be found in so many unexpected places and people. Recent gatherings with family and friends revealed gifts which too often lurk beneath the surface. Finding these treasures in those I’ve been given to love elicited pure joy. These wonderful encounters rekindled my hope, just as winter does. Though it may be hidden for a while, life is everywhere!

Creator God, help me to appreciate your gifts whatever the season.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God Loves You!

Generation after generation praises your works
and proclaims your love.

Psalm 145:4

This past summer, I wasn’t as regular with my outdoor walks as I’d hoped to be. Fortunately, our time in Italy re-acclimated me to the rigors of serious effort in this regard. I’m happy to report that I’ve gotten back “on track” so to speak…

The other day, in spite of the cold, feelings of gratitude overwhelmed me as I walked. Though I’m a creature of habit who takes the same route almost every time I venture out, the blue sky and changes in the leaves of trees I’ve seen a hundred times before filled me with awe. Squirrels scrambling to hide a winter’s measure of nuts were the frosting on the cake. Though I always enjoy walking, the joy I experienced that morning was remarkable.

I suppose I’m an unwitting student of Creation’s wisdom during these treks. The autumn sky that beckons my eyes toward heaven and the trees who continuously raise their arms upward remind me to do the same. Their very existence points to God’s enduring love. It occurs to me that my existence on this earth is meant to point others in the same direction. No wonder I returned home with such gratitude that day. Being able to share God’s love is very good reason to give thanks!

Generous God, help me to remind everyone I meet along the way of just how much you love them.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Seasoned With Peace

Suddenly, without warning, Jesus stood before them and said, “Peace!”
Matthew 28:9

It’s September and the official first day of autumn is only week’s away. I admit to smiling over the approach of this new season. Though my absolute favorite meteorological phenomenon is snow, I’m anxious to see the colorful array of fall colors which promise to awe all who will take the time to look their way. Eventually, those leaves will give way to the wind and cold. They’ll find their places over the soil. There they will lie in wait for their new work of fertilizing the fruits of springtime.

My autumn musing hints at the expectation of the two Marys who went to Jesus’ tomb on that first Easter morning. Since Passover and the Sabbath had passed, they were free to tend to Jesus’ body which was buried quickly due to the holy days. I wish I had been there when they arrived to find that the stone had been rolled away and that Jesus was gone. I wish I had been at Mary Magdalene’s side there to hear Jesus say, “Peace!”

No, I don’t have my seasons mixed up and I do realize that Easter is two seasons away. Still, we must never forget the promise of that day. When Jesus greeted Mary with “Peace!”, he intended this sentiment to echo through two millenniums and then some to you and me!

Dear God, help me always to remember that your gift of peace is offered every day of every season to us all.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved