Patience… With Others and Ourselves

When one finds a worthy woman, her value is beyond pearls…
She brings good, not evil all the days of her life.

From Proverbs 31:10-13

Though I’m probably more patient than most, this isn’t necessarily true when I’m tired. When I’ve overextended, I become edgy and critical. Little things which I usually let go become heavy burdens. Though I don’t verbally express my displeasure with the situation at hand, my face betrays me.

Recently, a friend emailed my husband to inquire about me. He wrote that I looked distressed at church which prompted him to check on me. When Mike shared our friend’s observation with me, I thought back to that morning. Our friend had attended the last Mass of the day. I’d attended the 7:30 Mass and then stayed to assist at our parish welcome desk for the remainder of the morning. By the end of the second Mass, I felt my fatigue. By the start of the third Mass, that fatigue overwhelmed me. When our friend waved on his way into church, I smiled half-heartedly. I was cleaning up crayons and pencils and replacing chairs that had been strewn about. I’m certain I was silently wishing that people had returned what they’d used to its proper place. I’d done similar tidying up two hours earlier with a genuine smile and without complaint.

I asked my husband to tell our friend that all was well and that I was simply tired. I asked myself to be as patient with me as I usually am with others. When I’m tired, I must do what I’d tell others to do: Go home and get some rest. If I listen to my advice, I’ll likely eliminate those half-hearted interactions which aren’t helpful to anyone.

Patient God, thank you for these well-placed reminders to be patient with myself and with those you have given me to love.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Over There…

“Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here
when the dead hear the voice of the Son of God.”

John 5:28

A few weeks ago, my cousin passed away surprisingly quickly. Though I was shocked by the news, I was happy for him. He is a very good man who’d suffered much as of late. Finally, he was able to cast aside his troubles to embrace new life.

I believe I make peace with he passing of my loved ones for good reason. From very early on, my parents assured me that those who neared death were destined for absolute happiness and health in heaven. As I grew older and came to appreciate the suffering of those left behind, I held on to my parents’ promises and my own conviction that heaven is indeed worth the pain of this temporary separation. Over the years, I’ve found additional consolation in my faith and in the wonderful accounts offered by those gifted with Near Death Experiences. These people who have tasted life after this life assure us all that my parents’ promises from long ago are well-founded.

A close encounter with this phenomenon came at the hands of my mom. She was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given a prognosis of four months. After acknowledging that she had lived a good and long life, my mother’s only wish was to be independent for as long as possible. As it happened, she remained miraculously pain-free and medication-free, except for her insulin, until the end. It was during her final week among us that my mom mentioned the beautiful voices. She also remarked that her sisters were waiting for her. The morning of the day she passed, I asked my mom if she was afraid. Her face glowed when she answered, “Oh no, Mary. It’s beautiful over there!” I’ve read most of what has been written on the topic and I assure you that my mom’s observation underscores it all.

Loving God, thank you for these amazing glimpses of the wonder that lies ahead.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

A Good Guy

“Joseph did as the angel of the Lord directed him.”
Matthew 1:24

Today is my father-in-law’s birthday. Like my own dad, he passed away far too early. The good news is that I knew him for ten years before he took his leave. Though our older son knew and loved his Grandpa, our younger son never met him. They would’ve liked one another! If his interactions with my elder son are any indication, this dear man wouldn’t have been able to contain his love for his five great-grandchildren either! How I wish I could have seen him holding each one of them!

Life wasn’t easy for my husband’s dad. Just after he married, he had to leave his wife behind to serve in the army. When he returned, the two had a tough time having children. When their first child was born, he lived only a few hours. Years later, my father-in-law told me that carried his son’s tiny casket to his grave for burial. Fortunately, my husband and his younger brother eventually came along.

My father-in-law was one of those good guys who worked hard at his regular job. He also took on part-time work to provide a few “extras” here and there. All the while, he cared for his aging parents who lived next door. This dear man actually had three jobs if you count the care-taking and home maintenance for which he was responsible. Still, he persisted in his roles as son and husband, dad and friend. Yes, he was a good man.

I cite the line above from Matthew’s gospel because it illustrate’s my father-in-law’s approach to things. Though I don’t think he actually saw an angel, I do believe he followed his heart in everything. This means that he followed God because God certainly resided within him.

Happy Birthday, Dear Father-in-law! Enjoy!

Loving God, thank you for this man and all of those who grace my life.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Ambassadors of Love

Behold, you are pleased with sincerity of heart,
and in my inmost being you teach me wisdom.

Psalm 51:8

While organizing my desk for the umpteenth time, I came across an article about church. Recent reflection regarding my own role within the church prompted me to reread this lost treasure. Afterward, I acknowledged that the negative impact of some have distracted me from the amazing good that the church has brought to my life and to the lives of many others. These “others” include both believers and non-believers who have been served by those good souls who do their best to live out their love for God.

I truly believe that God lives among us and within us both inside and outside of our institutional religious affiliations. Whether we worship in a synagogue, mosque, temple, church or elsewhere, within a faith community or alone, our most important God-related responsibility is the same: To live out our relationships with God in our relationships with one another. The technicalities which separate our various denominations must never separate us from one another.

Loving God, open our hearts to your wisdom. Make us all good ambassadors of your love.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

It’s Okay…

“Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet…”

Mark 6:11

Though I’ve written about this before, a recent encounter with a troubled friend urged me to do so again. It isn’t easy for me to walk away. This propensity to stay connected is partially genetic and partially learned. My parents opened their door to everyone. I recall my mom saying, “I leave the door open. If people choose not to come in, it’s their loss.” Jesus also welcomed everyone who crossed his path. Since I subscribe to Jesus’ way of life, I try to welcome others as Jesus did. This is the reason it’s difficult for me to advise anyone to do precisely the opposite.

Still, at times, walking away is ones only reasonable option. We all know people who aren’t good for us. They may not render physical harm, but they certainly take a psychological or spiritual or emotional toll on us. I find that if my gut offers a strong reaction to someone, I need to pay attention. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I should never speak to that person again. However, it may mean that I need to limit our contact. If this doesn’t remedy the situation, I may have to walk away after all.

I acknowledge that this is an odd topic for a reflection, especially when I have much to rejoice about in my life these days. I’ve included it because my troubled friend was convinced that part of “being good” is allowing ourselves to be hurt unnecessarily. Our loving God couldn’t disagree more.

Dear God, stay with us, help us to recognize potential harm and guide us away from its source.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Spread The Word!

Mary went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,”
and then reported what he had told her.

John 20:18

Recent good news keeps me in “alleluia mode” these days. Good news is hard to keep to oneself. I admit to offering continued updates regarding my grandchildren to anyone who will listen. I’m just as eager when my news might be helpful to others. We’re all willing to spread the word when that word is worth spreading. We share a good book and diet tips that work. We tell our colleagues about inroads we’ve made with the new payroll technology and the new boss. We can’t keep the news of a long-awaited pregnancy or a cancer remission to ourselves for longer than it takes to scroll down to a number on our cell phones. Indeed, good news is a limited commodity in this Twenty-first Century world of ours. So it is that we celebrate it at every opportunity!

The truth is that since the beginning of time, good news has been in short supply on this earth. No wonder we share glad tidings when they come our way. When our circumstances surround us with sorrow and pain, we perk up to listen when words of hope are offered. It occurs to me that though life can be tough, good news is always ours. When we acknowledge God’s presence around us and within us, good news takes on a whole new meaning which endures for the long haul!

Loving God, thank you for breathing hope into every minute of every day.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved