Just Love

Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.
Psalm 126:5

I admit that I have shed some tears as of late. A recent gathering brought tears of joy over our grandson’s second birthday and the wonderful family with whom I celebrated. Unfortunately, the news on television that very evening was heartbreaking. I turned off the set before the newscast ended because I couldn’t listen to any more. A day later, an appeal for assistance to needy children arrived in our mailbox. If I multiplied the misery that packet chronicled one hundredfold, it would still be only a drop in the bucket of poverty which affects so many of our world’s children.

With each passing day, I worry, I rejoice in the blessings of my own family and I worry some more. And the tears continue to flow. Then, I passed a group of Scouts at the grocery store who were collecting school supplies for their needy classmates. After promising them I’d be back, I headed to another store which advertised an amazing back-to-school sale and I bought as much as I could. I know I shocked those kids when I returned with my bags.

Finally, it occurred to me to ask The Almighty how it is possible to watch over and attend to all of us twenty-four/seven for eternity. It was then that I imagined God smiling in response: “It’s love, Mary. It’s all about love. Just love!”

Loving God, of all of your gifts, our capacity to love is the greatest. Be with me and all of us as we try to love as completely as you do.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved


Come To Me…

A few weeks ago, a friend appeared at our door unexpectedly. Bob is one of our favorite neighbors and I was pleased to see him. When I looked past his smile and saw the book in his hand, I guessed the reason for this visit. Bob’s first comment confirmed my suspicions. “Well, here it is, my second book!” My fellow author tried his best to be low-key, but failed miserably in his effort to hide his absolute joy. He didn’t have to do so on my account because my emotions mirrored his. I couldn’t have been more excited! The copy Bob shared with me was his very first uncorrected edition. This made no difference to me. I caressed the book almost as lovingly as I would a new grandchild. I’d read Bob’s first book and I headed back to my computer to order a copy of his second effort as soon as he left. On the way up the stairs, I couldn’t help smiling as I recalled my elation when the UPS driver dropped off the proof copy of my first book. For someone who enjoys writing, there is nothing better! My smile remained as I searched Amazon for my friend’s book and ordered my copy.

After placing the order, I ignored the new email and returned to my own writing. I’ve struggled over the past several weeks, not because the inspiration hasn’t come, but because so much of it has been required in a short period of time. My dear husband and I have certainly had a full calendar as of late. Add to this many unexpected demands on our time and two early deadlines imposed by my parish bulletin’s publisher and you get the picture. Though this was pressure enough, I added my own measure to the mix. My author-friend had completed two manuscripts and published both within the past year and a half. I wondered why my own 90-page effort hasn’t yet evolved into a publishable state. As you know, I post these reflections every day. I enjoy composing them because they focus my thinking toward the positive each day. Though I often crank out my parish bulletin reflections in a single afternoon, some editions evolve into a two or three-day project. It just depends. On what? I simply don’t know. Still, I enjoy the writing.

After having written all of that, I retreated to the swing on our porch. Since childhood, I’ve found great consolation on swings. As a little girl, when I needed a few minutes of comfort or peace, I retreated to our backyard swing-set. Though we didn’t have much when it came to material things, that battered structure of aged piping, bolts, chains and wooden seats was indeed precious. It brought me closer to heaven than any child could ever hope to be. There was something mystical about swaying back and forth under the vast sky. Whether I saw streaming rays of sunshine, billowing cumulus clouds or dusk’s slowly emerging stars, something from above always assured me that God was watching and that all would be well in the end. Though the problem at hand almost always remained intact when I returned to our second-floor flat, my ability to deal with it had grown exponentially. Now, in spite of the fact that there was still plenty to write to complete this reflection, I allowed myself a return trip to that backyard of old. Though the roof above blocked my view of the sky, the fruits of my husband’s gardening caught my eye from every direction. When a gentle breeze embraced me as I swayed back-and-forth on the swing, I found that decades-old heavenly place where comfort and peace flow freely.

I enjoyed that taste of heaven for fifteen minutes. Though my 90 pages remain untouched, my interlude on the porch provided just enough time to recapture my belief that I’ll finish my book at just the right time. Before returning to this writing, I reread today’s scripture passages with new eyes. It was in Matthew’s gospel (11:25-30) that I found one of Jesus’ most important promises, the same promise which has been kept faithfully to me all of my life: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Jesus’ words echo God’s often repeated invitation to trust and to rest in the most comforting and peace-filled company we’ll ever know.

It seems to me that it’s up to us to accept God’s invitation just as I did so often as a child and as I did today. Whether we fret about ourselves or about those we’ve been given to love, we’re invited to hand our worries over to God. Simply knowing that someone else understands opens our hearts to the peace that only God’s embrace can bring. I’ve rested in this place often during the difficult moments of my life. Perhaps this is the reason I continue to plug away at my writing. Just as my author-friend can’t help cranking out his novels, I can’t help sharing this good news.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Walk With God

Teach me your paths, my God,
guide me in your truth.

Psalm 25:4

I’ve probably written more often than you care to read that my favorite solo leisure activity is walking outdoors. The weather matters little as I find these treks enjoyable regardless of the temperature. Odd as it may seem, a breeze of any velocity enhances these excursions exponentially for me.

Much to my dismay, my walks have been irregular as of late. I’ve had trouble juggling my schedule and making time to write as often as I would like to. A few days ago, I couldn’t deal with my restlessness and frustration any longer. I announced to my husband that I was going for a walk and that was that. The poor man responded with a puzzled look as I’d complained only a few minutes earlier regarding my current lack of time.

Not two minutes out of the house, a gentle breeze enveloped me. Two blocks later, the breeze’s strength increased and nudged me along the way. This was quite a feat as I was already walking briskly. Halfway into this adventure, my head cleared and our good and gracious God took residence there for the duration. Suddenly, my writing schedule -or lack thereof- seemed less of a problem and more of a blessing. Somehow, I knew I would find the time to do what needs to be done.

It seems to me that we sometimes learn God’s paths best when walk in search of them.

Merciful God, thank you for having pity on me when I lost sight of your presence. The moment I opened my heart, there you were!

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

How Can I Help?

Suppose someone is without clothes and daily food.
If you say, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,”
but do nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?
You see, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

James 2:15-17

My recent commitment to exchange my worry for action has urged me into “do something” mode. The amazing people God has given me to love add to the mix as they are constant reminders that each of us is gifted in unique ways. I’m a constant reminder to myself and others that we’re all also burdened with our personal varieties of frailties. Still, God places this world in our hands. It seems to me that this is no empty gesture on God’s part. God created us in God’s own image and likeness. God knows better than we do just how capable we are.

So it is that I’m challenging myself (and anyone who cares to join me) in setting aside our worry regarding the woes which trouble humankind these days. After praying with great fervor for global, let’s look a bit closer to home. Is there something in our communities, our neighborhoods, our schools, our temples, our churches, our workplaces, our organizations or in our own homes which needs attention? If so, please join me in asking, “Is there something I can do to help?” Don’t discount even the smallest opportunity to do good. I’m convinced that your efforts and mine will make a difference somewhere to someone every time.

Caring God, help us to love and to care for one another as you care for us.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

A Bit of Faith Yields an Abundance Love

Jesus said to them,
“Why are you terrified,
O you of little faith?”

Matthew 8:24

I admit it. I become terrified, too.

When I was a little girl, I envied the disciples. I felt certain that if I’d had the opportunity to walk with Jesus every day, I would have made much better use of the time than Jesus’ contemporaries did. I would’ve had no doubt that Jesus could and would take care of everything I needed.

If you’ve read my writing before, you know that I’ve asserted often that this is precisely the case. God has generously revealed Divine Love to me and for me throughout my life. I know without a doubt that God loves and cares for me and for every one of us. I know that God knows us better than we know ourselves and that God knows our every need better than we do. Still, though I believe this with all of my heart, when the chips are down, I sometimes join the disciples in being terrified.

The good news is that, in spite of their shaky faith, the disciples never forgot where to turn. They cried out to Jesus whenever they were in trouble. I’m happy to say that, in spite of my sometimes shaky faith, I also never forget where to turn and neither should you. God’s ear is always only a prayer away.

Loving God, I know I’m repeating myself here, but thank you for listening and for loving us so completely!

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

More On Time…

A time to be born and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot the plant.

Ecclesiastes 3:2

A time to be born… I enjoy walking outdoors because of Nature’s ongoing evolution. The entire world seems to engage in rebirth during springtime. This growth continues through summer when flowerbeds and gardens flourish. Leafy trees respond to September’s mix early on with subtle changes in color. October brings those changes to fruition only to give way to November winds. Leaves crunching beneath my feet remind me that winter is near. Even then, barren trees hold the promise of new life. Yes, it seems to me that there is always time to be born.

A time to die… Just as Nature engages in rebirth, it also engages in dying all the while. Something old continually gives way to something new. Seeds fall from trees and dance in the wind until they find rest on the ground below. Though no longer part of a living plant, they hold all of the potential they need for life anew. These seeds nestle into the ground with great hope in the things to come.

A time to plant and a time to uproot the plant… If those seeds are lucky, a watchful gardener will see that they are covered with enough soil to survive. If they sprout too closely to one another, that gardener will gently relocate them so each will have room to take root and to receive its share of sunlight and water.

A time to love… Fortunately for us all, God feels it is always time to tend to us, the most beloved of all God’s creatures.

Caring God, thank you for your always timely love.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved