Generations of Hope

I hear what God proclaims;
God proclaims peace.

Psalm 85:9ab

I’ve enjoyed an abundance of family time as of late due to recent birthdays, our family vacation and our anniversaries. Still, in spite of the tangible love evident in all of these events, I’m bothered these days. I wonder aloud if this restlessness is a sign that I’m getting older. A sense of urgency overwhelms me and I feel a deep need to fix everything that needs fixing!

I love our sons, their wives and our grandchildren more than anything else on this earth. This prompts me to be gravely troubled by the current state of this world of ours. When I convince myself that things cannot possibly get worse, the airwaves deliver another bit of bad news. After lamenting this turn of events, reminders of poverty and other social ills here at home and around the world hit me right between the eyes. I think of my family, especially our grandchildren, and I wonder what this world will be like long after Grandpa and I are gone. How will this mess get fixed?

The family photo resting above my keyboard interrupts my brooding. The sparkle in the eyes of my offspring insists that I give them and their contemporaries a little credit. That sparkle touches smoldering embers of hope deep within which I’ve neglected these days. It occurs to me that numerous generations before me have wrung their hands in despair as well, only to be surprised by the goodness brought about by the young people among them. Finally, I find peace.

Loving God, thank you for the gift of each new generation. Within them lie hope and the potential for peace on this earth.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Who Am I?

It’s been more than a dozen years since my husband began to search for his Croatian cousins. Mike was raised next door to his dad’s parents who migrated from their homeland as teens. This close proximity made Mike privy to bits and pieces of his grandparents’ story which no one else heard. It’s no wonder he engaged in a years-long search to find the family his grandparents had left behind. After extensive research, numerous phone calls and a letter to his grandfather’s childhood parish, it was his cousins’ parish priest who provided their contact information. All of this resulted in an amazing visit with Mike’s family in Krasic, Croatia. We’ve been in contact with these wonderful new additions to our family ever since.

Though I wish I could tell you that Mike was satisfied with these efforts to discover his roots, I cannot. Some years later, he began a similar search on his mother’s side of the family. Though Mike didn’t live next door, he visited his grandmother often at her home just a few miles away. Mike’s maternal grandfather had passed away just prior to Mike’s birth. As a result, his grandmother looked upon him as a blessing who filled the hole in her heart. As a child, Mike listened intently to this grandmother’s stories as well. Like those Croatian tales, they stoked his curiosity regarding his grandparents’ life in their homeland. So it was that the research, phone calls and correspondence began again. A few years ago, we spent a week in Sicily and a day in Mike’s grandparents’ village. Our friend Onofrio arranged for his Sicilian army buddy Gianfranco and his wife Aurora to explore Altofonte with us that day. This enjoyable adventure provided Mike with far more information. It also added many more questions to his need-to-know list.

Today, Mike and I are in Sicily. This time, two locals are exploring Altofonte with us. While researching via the internet, Mike came across a high school student’s video which featured her hometown. When Mike commented that his grandparents were born there, Pietro joined in the conversation. He shared that he lives in Altofonte and might be able to find additional information for Mike. Since that first online meeting, Pietro was elected councilman in Altofonte and he and Mike have communicated regularly regarding local news as well as Mike’s family history. In the mean time, Mike discovered the Sicilian Genealogy page on Facebook. Someone used the page to request on site help in discovering her family roots. When law student Francesco came highly recommended, Mike decided to contact him. In the midst of his studies, Francesco engages in genealogy searches as a hobby. At this writing, Mike and I are anxious to meet these two in person. Mike is anxious to meet his grandparents’ history in person as well.

Since I packed my bags to join him in this undertaking, I think it’s obvious that I support Mike’s efforts in this regard. I spent my childhood listening to my family stories, too, and I certainly appreciate their value. The difference, I think, is that I’ve never felt the need to know more. I loved my parents who made me who I am today. My grandparents, aunts and uncles were the frosting on the cake who enhanced my parents’ influence. Of course, my own siblings and my sixty-plus cousins added to the mix as well. I’ve never wondered where I came from or who I am because I felt that I knew. The truth is that, until this writing, I continued to feel this way. It is the question Jesus posed in Mark’s gospel ( 8:27-35) which urges me to acknowledge that I have more to learn after all…

Mark tells us that, as they walked between villages, Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” I’m fairly certain that Jesus knew how he would answer this question. Our Loving Creator meant everything to Jesus and he had made his people’s history his own. Jesus knew from whence he’d come and he lived accordingly. Perhaps Jesus posed the question to help his disciples to discover who they were and where they were on this life’s journey. They’d enjoyed friendships with Jesus and they’d witnessed his preaching, his miracles and his compassion. Still, they also shook their heads at some of what Jesus said and did. When Jesus posed his question, most of them didn’t have the courage to express what they felt. They merely quoted what they’d heard from others. Only Peter stepped up to say, “You are the Christ.” When he identified Jesus, Peter identified himself. Peter was willing to follow wherever Jesus lead him because in knowing Jesus he came to know himself. Though Peter balked when Jesus spoke of his suffering, Peter remained. Though Peter denied Jesus during his passion, he embraced their friendship at the foot of the cross. By the time Peter joined Jesus in eternity, Peter knew exactly who he was.

Discovering his extended family has enriched Mike’s sense of self beyond expectations. I think Mike will agree that his relationship with God defines him even more so. As for me, I have much to learn from my relationship with God and my own history as well. One day, I’ll really know who God is and I’ll really know me.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Love Past and Present

Your love endures through all generations.
From Psalm 145:13

Our granddaughter spent a few days with us in mid-August. This belated overnight stay for her birthday coincided with our wedding anniversary. Because everyone was gathering at our house to celebrate on Ellie’s last day with us, my husband pulled out our wedding album. Ellie glanced at a few pictures probably in an effort to delay her bedtime. After ushering her off to bed, I found it was the perfect time for me to revisit those memories.

As I poured over our wedding pictures, tears threatened several times. I lingered a while over the photos which featured loved ones who’ve passed on from this life. Each one has left a significant mark on my life. Each one contributed in one way or another to my love for my own children and grandchildren and nieces and nephews.

Though I know my loved ones present and passed on aren’t perfect, they’ve all added to the richness in my life. It seems to me that the most important gift we can give one another is time well spent together. We do more good than we realize whenever we love one another the best we can as only we can.

Thank you, God, for the people you have given me to love in this life and for those who so generously love me.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Enduring Love

Your love endures through all generations.
From Psalm 145:13

We celebrated our wedding anniversary a few weeks ago by going out to dinner. Our sons managed to surprise us by alerting the restaurant of this event beforehand. Our waitress seemed genuinely pleased to be in on the secret as she smile broadly when she welcomed us with, “Happy Anniversary!”

Went we went home afterward, I suggested to my husband that we celebrate further by revisiting our wedding album. As we poured over our wedding photos, tears threatened several times. I pointed out many loved ones with us that day who have passed on from this life. Each one left a significant mark on my life. Our own family continues to benefit from the love these good souls showered upon my husband and me so long ago.

Though I know my loved ones present and passed on are not perfect, they have all added to the richness of my life. It seems to me that the most important gifts we give one another are time well spent together and love.

Thank you, God, for the people you have given me to love in this life and for those who have so generously loved me.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Love and Peace

I hear what God proclaims;
the Lord -for he proclaims peace.

Psalm 85:9ab

I’ve enjoyed an abundance of family time as of late due to recent birthdays, treks off to college and an anniversary or two. Yet, in spite of the tangible love evident in all of these events, I’m bothered these days. I wonder aloud if this restlessness is a sign that I’m getting older. A sense of urgency overwhelms me and I feel a deep need to fix everything.

I love our sons, their wives and our grandchildren more than anything else on this earth. This prompts me to be gravely troubled by the current state of this world of ours. When I convince myself that things cannot possibly get worse, the airwaves deliver another bit of bad news. After lamenting this turn of events, reminders of poverty and other social ills here at home and around the world hit me right between the eyes. I think of my family -especially our grandchildren- and I wonder what this world will be like long after Grandpa and I are gone. How will this mess get fixed?

The family photo resting above my keyboard interrupts my brooding. The sparkle in the eyes of my offspring insists that I give them and their contemporaries a little credit. That sparkle touches smoldering embers of hope deep within which I’ve neglected these days. It occurs to me that numerous generations before me have wrung their hands in despair as well, only to be surprised by the goodness brought about by the young people among them. Finally, I find peace.

Loving God, thank you for the gift of each new generation. Within them lie hope and the potential for peace on this earth.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Pictures of Love

Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages,
and your love endures through all generations.

Psalm 145:13

When our granddaughter spent the night with us a few weeks ago, she spent a good deal of time thumbing through the photo albums we keep on our coffee table. These albums feature Lauren and her sisters from the day the eldest was born. After perusing her life’s history for a while, she asked if we had pictures of Grandpa and me when we were little. Because our childhood albums are tucked far away with other mementos, I hoped to distract my granddaughter with our wedding album. When she asked, “Who’s that?” while pointing to Grandpa and me, I knew I’d have her attention for some time.

As we poured over those wedding pictures, tears threatened several times. I pointed out many loved ones with us that day who have passed on from this life. Each one left a significant mark on my life. Lauren and her sisters benefit from the loved they showered upon Grandpa and me so long ago.

Though I know my loved ones present and passed on are not perfect, they have all added to the richness in my life. It seems to me that the most important gift we give one another is time well spent together.

Thank you, God, for the people you have given me to love in this life and for those who have so generously loved me.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved