J… Joy!

God has sent me to bring
glad tidings to the poor…

From Luke 4:18

J is for Joy. Joy can be illusive. A recent off-the-cuff remark opened an old wound. Normally, I let go of hurtful events, burying them deep within. As of late, however, these things have resurfaced. As a result, this seemingly harmless remark sent me into a tailspin. In an effort not to succumb to my sadness, I distracted myself. I began by perusing the newspaper. This only increased my melancholy. I set aside the paper and picked up the remote. I surfed the channels until a news report caught my attention. The update confirmed that recent violence had been accomplished to “honor” God’s name. I sank into my recliner, looked out the window and asked, “Dear God, what are we doing?”

We humans have hurt one another in God’s name since the beginning of time. Before I could repeat my question, a lone dove perched on our bird bath. Almost on cue, she turned my way, seemingly to peer into my aching heart. Though a large blue jay joined her to dance on the rim of that bird bath, the dove continued to look at me. Finally, I prayed aloud, “Thank you, Lord!” Though that dove didn’t change the news that afternoon, she filled me with joy. When she eventually flew away, perhaps to spread joy elsewhere, God’s joy remained with me.

As long as we continue to nurture God’s joy within us and around us, there will be joy in this world. Rather than allowing myself to be overwhelmed by wounds old and new, I will allow God’s joy to overwhelm me. My joy-filled revelry will compel me to share that joy at every opportunity!

God of Joy, help us to focus on your joy in spite of this world’s continuing attempts to distort and disfigure it. Be with us as we bring your joy into every moment every day.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

J is for…

The Lord has sent me to bring
glad tidings to the poor…

From Luke 4:18

J is for Joy. I would be completely dishonest if I didn’t admit that joy eludes me at times. A recent off-the-cuff remark opened an old wound. Though I tend to let go of hurtful memories, this recollection surfaced immediately. Rather than giving in to my slowly simmering anger, I picked up the newspaper to distract myself. Unfortunately, the headlines only increased my melancholy. I swapped the paper for the remote. I surfed the channels until a news report caught my attention. The update confirmed that violence continues to plague my old neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago. I sank into my recliner, looked out the window and asked, “Dear God, what are we doing?”

We humans have hurt one another since the beginning of time. Before I could repeat my question to the Almighty, a lone bird perched on our bird bath. Though the bird may have been a pigeon, she was a dove to me. Almost on cue, she turned my way seemingly to peer into my aching heart. When a large blue jay joined her to dance on the rim of that bird bath, the dove continued to look at me. That sweet bird didn’t change the news that afternoon. Still, she filled me with joy just the same. When she eventually flew away, I imagined that she’d gone to spread joy elsewhere.

As long as we can appreciate the joy within us and around us, there will be joy in this world of ours. Rather than allowing myself to be overwhelmed by wounds old and new, that wonderful dove reminded me to revel in joy and to share that joy at every opportunity.

God of Joy, you send me to bring your joy everywhere I go.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

J… for Joy

The Lord has sent me to bring
glad tidings to the poor…

From Luke 4:18

J is for Joy. Joy can be illusive at times. A recent off-the-cuff remark opened an old wound. I tend to let go of hurtful events from the past, so this recollection took me by surprise. I distracted myself by perusing the newspaper. This only increased my melancholy. I set aside the paper and picked up the remote. I surfed the channels until a news report caught my attention. The update confirmed that recent violence was accomplished to “honor” God’s name. I sank into my recliner, looked out the window and asked, “Dear God, what are we doing?”

We humans have hurt one another in God’s name since the beginning of time. Before I could repeat my question, a lone dove perched on our bird bath. Almost on cue, she turned my way seemingly to peer into my aching heart. Though a large blue jay joined her to dance on the rim of that bird bath, the dove continued to look at me. “Thank you, Lord!” I prayed aloud. Though that dove didn’t change the news that afternoon, she filled me with a morsel of joy just the same. Though she eventually flew away, perhaps to spread joy elsewhere, God’s joy remained with me.

As long as some of us continue to appreciate God’s joy within us and around us, there will be joy in this world of ours. Rather than allowing myself to be overwhelmed by wounds old and new, I must revel in God’s joy and share that joy at every opportunity.

God of Joy, help us to focus on your joy in spite of continuing attempts to distort and disfigure it. Help those of us who will to bring your joy into every moment every day.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God Invites Us to Rejoice

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul;
The decree of the Lord is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The command of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eye.

From Psalm 19

The morning after a very special family wedding, sunshine peeked under my window blind and hinted at the warmth shared with so many loved ones throughout that special Saturday. The shoes lying nearby reminded me that I had danced the evening away. I could not help smiling as I eased myself out of bed. Yes, I had enjoyed a beautiful day and the least I could do was to get to church and offer thanks for this blessing.

When I arrived for Mass, I did not know that the blessings of the previous day would continue in full force. I ran into many of my favorite people on the way in. I settled into my pew -where I had sat for the prior day’s wedding- and found myself touched once again by the love that had filled this place the day before. As I sang the opening hymn, I realized that those gathered this day had brought their own measures of love to share with the rest of us. Amazing as this was, it was when our priest began his homily that the joy became tangible.

Father Bernie began by saying, “I have not been as happy and excited about being a priest -not for decades- as I was when I heard Pope Francis speak this week about the Church.” Father Bernie went on to share the pope’s observation that priests and bishops need to be pastors who respond to wounded hearts, not legislators who hold God’s people to rules. Father Bernie seemed genuinely pleased with this return to a more loving and merciful ministry.

Father Bernie is not the only one who is pleased. So am I. I dare say, God is pleased as well. It seems to me that the psalmist cited above has it right… God’s precepts refresh us, make us wise, bring joy to our hearts and enlighten us. There is nothing controlling about our God, for ours is the God of love. If the things we expect of others and of ourselves fail to make us renewed, wiser, more joyful and more enlightened, then it seems to me that we are expecting the wrong things of everyone.

I left church that morning -just as I left the wedding the night before- knowing that I was better off for having been there. I cannot help thinking that this is the result God hopes comes of all of our worship and all of the time we spend with one another.

Generous God, thank you for gifting us with the capacity to experience your wisdom, love and joy. Renew us every day with glimpses of your intent for humankind and give us the courage and freedom to live accordingly.

©2013 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved