Healing… Always A Possibility!

“Those who are healthy do not need a physician,
but the sick do.”

Luke 5:31

The other day, my husband returned home as our most recent snowfall ended. He had a quick lunch and then headed outdoors. He’d had a rough time the day before as he’d presided at the funeral of a good man whose death came unexpectedly. In an effort to be helpful and perhaps ease his pain a bit, I pulled on my coat and boots and followed him. Mike started the snowblower while I grabbed my trusty shovel. Though the snowblower’s roar prevented any conversation between us, we were together. When the job was finished, Mike was feeling much better and so was I. Healing came as unexpectedly as the loss of our friend had.

You know, the same can occur wherever we find ourselves with another of God’s kids. We have partners, family and friends, neighbors, work colleagues and classmates at school. We belong to faith communities, social clubs, service organizations and sports teams. We also enjoy our friendships with God: Just God and you; just God and me. It seems to me that it is our relationships with God which fuel our efforts to bring healing to those we’ve been given to love.

It’s reasonably easy to bring healing to my husband. After decades together, I can read him and respond accordingly. This isn’t necessarily the case with others. Still, we can pull on our coats and grab our shovels to help a fellow soul to clear the path ahead. After all, healing may be unexpected, but it’s always a possibility!

Dear God, help us to be generous with our love and to share that love with those who need it most.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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U is for Unity

These are my mother and brothers and sisters.
Whoever lives as God asks is family to me.

From Mark 3:34-35

U is for Unity. A few week’s ago, we gathered at my nephew’s home. His sister lives in California and was home for a visit. Ralph invited us over to see her. Our family is quite large. These days, it’s difficult to gather us in one place at any one time. Still, almost thirty of us came out to visit with Cece and one another that day. What fun! My own siblings and I have grown into very different people, yet we each manage to bring our own variety of joy to these gatherings. The same is true of my nieces and nephews and my own sons. Though they all set out to form friendships and families of their own, they find their way back to their roots to reconnect with the family which gave them their start. For me, the best part of these gatherings is watching familial interactions unfold. How nice it is that we still manage to get along!

It seems to me that this should also be true of our human family. God breathed life into every one of us with the hope that we’d live these lives to the fullest. We needn’t congregate in the same worship places or in any worship place at all to express our appreciation. It seems to me that we do need to respect one another and to see one another as God’s children. We need to love one another as we love ourselves. We need to open our eyes, our minds and our hearts to better understand perspectives which sometimes differ from our own. Understanding our differences doesn’t mean that we have to embrace them. It does mean that we must learn to coexist amidst our varying points of view. I do this best when I set aside the non-essential details of these things and focus upon the most essential needs of this world.

God has breathed life into billions of unique children since time began and God loves each and every one. God’s only request is the same as that of any loving parent. God asks only that we learn to get along.

Loving God, you love each one of us. Help us to work together to transform the world we share into a fitting home for us all.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

O is for Original and Opus

For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be and favored.

Psalm 128:2

O is for Original. O is for Opus. I struggled a bit as I tried to settle on today’s theme. I was torn between “original” and “opus” because both words describe extremely important aspects of our existence. You see, each of us is an original. Even my cousins who are identical twins are very different people. Still, I cannot dismiss the word “opus” because each of our lives is exactly that. You and I are unique and important works which God has contributed to our human family. Our part in all of this is to contribute our own unique and important work to the mix. Whether we compose or construct or cause things to happen, our opus is vital to the rest of humankind. Whether this work is a lifelong process, a singular effort at a particular moment in time or a combination of the two, your and my original opus will make an impact on others as no one else’s can.

My first reaction to all of this is to feel the weight of the world upon me. Then, I consider the great and small works of those I’ve met along the way. Finally, I realize that the grandeur or smallness of their actions means little to me. It is their presence and their delivery which changes everything. Each person’s original opus impacts me in some way. The same is true of my own work.

It’s up to me to make my contribution to this world. I must seize the opportunities before me and make the most of them as only I can. It’s up to you to do the same!

Loving God, be with us as we bring our unique talents to fruition. Inspire our efforts to contribute our own original opus and to impact this world as only we can.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

L is for Love

Love the Lord your God
with your whole heart,
with your whole soul,
and with your whole mind….
Love your neighbor as yourself.

From Matthew 22:37-38

L is for Love. This is a tough one. I don’t have a bit of trouble loving God. Though I admit to having had words with our patient Creator, this is the result of my certainty of God’s love for me. God invited me into a relationship. When I accepted, I committed myself to being completely honest in our interactions. This is my only choice. After all, if I don’t share my true feelings, God knows them nonetheless.

Early on, a wise teacher shared that there is something lovable about every one of us and that it’s up to us to discover what this is. This observation has helped me a great deal over the years. Though I don’t have a flawless track record, I can honestly say that I don’t hate anyone. Still, though I love my neighbor in theory, putting that love into practice sometimes poses a challenge. The good news here is that I try.

The toughest part is loving my neighbor as I love myself. I shared weeks ago that I planned to work at being less judgmental throughout New Year 2019. What I may not have been clear about is that much of that judgment is directed at myself. If I fail to love myself enough to allow myself the luxury of being a frail human, how can I love my neighbors enough to allow them to do the same?

Love is a tricky endeavor at best. Still, it’s the best work we can do and the best source of true happiness. The passage from Matthew above isn’t a directive. It’s an invitation to heaven on earth.

Loving God, thank you for creating us in your image, especially when it comes to our ability love.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

H is for Holy

Samuel grew up, and the Lord was with him,
not permitting any word of his to be without effect.

1 Samuel 3:19

H is for Holy. The dictionary defines holy as belonging to or coming from God; sacred; consecrated. When I was a child, I was convinced that holy was an adjective attributed only to God and the saints of old who lived perfectly moral and upright lives. Though I hoped to be a saint one day by gaining admittance to heaven, I never expected to be considered holy on any level.

Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune of associating with people who understand holiness far more completely than I. They generously shared their conviction that anything and any one “of God” is holy. Since we and all of creation are God’s handiwork, we are indeed holy. Just as God remained with Samuel and blessed him with a purposeful life, so God blesses you and me.

As I consider my personal bouts with discouragement and guilt, I find that I move beyond these things best when I remember that I am “of God.” I am holy. You are holy, too. No one else’s opinion, no failure, no guilt, nothing you or I can do will ever change this. Yes, you are “of God” and so am I. We are holy.

Holy God, inspire us to realize that we are truly holy and help us to live accordingly.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Stand Together

“Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs
under the table eat the family’s leavings.”

Mark 7:28

I was born into an Irish and Italian neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago. Since only the tiniest drop of each bloodline flows through me, I had no preference for either group. The truth is that I envied them both, especially on St. Patrick’s and St. Joseph’s Days when they celebrated their heritage with great flourish. For the most part, I’m French Canadian. There is no designated day for me to do the same. Though my own family celebrated rich traditions which were the direct result of my nationality, I longed for a more colorful and universal display of our heritage. By third grade, many of these neighbors moved away. New African-American neighbors took their places. At that time, I discovered that my new neighbors found themselves in the same situation as I. No one outside of their own families celebrated their heritage with a flourish either. Sadly, most outsiders looked upon my new neighbors’ rich heritage as a threat or a curse. As for me, my new neighbors became my friends.

This childhood experience evolved into a lifetime of effort to overlook ethnicity and the numerous other differences which often separate us. Perhaps it was providential that I spent my career working with children. My classroom provided the perfect forum in which to honor both our personal uniqueness and our common qualities. In the process, I think I succeeded in honoring my students for who they were while also respecting the heritage of each one. I hope I do the same today for all of those whom I meet along the way.

God of us All, it seems that we manage to separate ourselves into differing factions more than ever these days. We continue to find reason to stand apart. Please inspire us with your loving and welcoming ways before it’s too late.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved