Real Love

O my dove in the clefts of the rock, in the
secret recesses of the cliff, let me see you,
let me hear your voice,
for your voice is sweet and lovely.

Song of Songs 2:14

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Because it is also a “regular” Sunday at church, I’m arranging for our Christmas Eve dinner today. The gifts are already piled strategically around the Christmas Tree. In the process of arranging them, I realized one was missing. It’s something I couldn’t disguise very well, so I hid it under my son’s bed. In the midst of retrieving it, I bumped a plastic container which was also under his bed. I began to tell myself that I would ask him to take it home with him until I realized it was mine. Busy as I was, I opened the bin to examine its contents. I smiled as I retrieved one of the treasures inside. It was my husband’s and my wedding program. I recognized it immediately because the cover bears the scripture passage from The Song of Songs which I cite above. It seems fitting that I reflect on it today.

My husband and I selected this passage because we were taken in by the painful longing this lover expressed for his beloved. This lover who spoke so passionately is the God of Israel who desperately sought to be reunited with the Jewish People. This Divine longing persisted for centuries as evidenced in the gift of Jesus. On the first Christmas, God expressed this insatiable love face-to-face and heart-to-heart in the most tangible way possible. God expressed this love in the gentle cooing of the newborn baby who would spend his life convincing us all that God’s love for us is very, very real.

Loving God, how can we thank you?

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Advertisements

Our Faithful Guardian

He leads me in right paths…
From Psalm 23:3

When I consider the state of the world around me and of my own heart, I sometimes wonder why God bothers. Though God gifts humankind in ways more numerous than the grains of sand which cover this earth’s beaches, we manage to misuse our gifts in equally bountiful ways.

Fortunately for me, God takes note of my discouragement long before it morphs into something unmanageable. In the midst of my laments, images of kindnesses great and small distract my thinking. Moments in nature, in the company of those I love, at prayer and at peace with the tasks at hand compel me to utter words of thanks without much thought. While I remain baffled at this transition from discouragement to contentment, God leans back and admires this bit of Divine Handiwork.

As I consider Psalm 23 once again, I understand. God will never cease to lead us in right paths because it is in God’s nature to do so. When one loves as completely as God does, one never EVER gives up on the objects of that love!

Loving God, thank you for your ongoing encouragement in things great and small. Remind me never to give up on this world because you will never give up on a single one of us.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

They Serve and Protect Us

Upon their hands, the angels shall bear you up,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.

Psalm 91:12

On this Veteran’s Day, I cannot help thinking about those who serve and protect us both nearby and far away. It seems that every passing day gives reason for us to pray a bit more fervently for their safety. Whether they serve us overseas or here at home, these dedicated personnel have set aside their personal lives to do so. Ones politics doesn’t matter in their regard. They serve us and protect us regardless.

Though I know God remains with each one in spite of what may come his or her way, it is a worthy endeavor to keep them in our prayers just the same. At the same time, let’s add a prayer of thanks for the hundreds of thousands of veterans among us. Though it is only recently that we’ve acknowledged the toll taken by active military service, all of our veterans have suffered in one way or another simply because they have served this country of ours.

Happy Veterans Day, Dear Veterans and Veterans-in-the making. Thank you for everything!

Dear God, bless them generously and be with them all.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Angelic Friends

To the angels God has given the command
to guard you in all your ways.

Psalm 91:11

Some time ago, my sister invited me to accompany her to a talk at her church by a woman who believes strongly in the presence of angels in our lives. I happily tagged along because the topic was familiar territory to me. Very early on, the good sisters taught me about God and about these special helpers who dutifully keep an eye on each one of us. It had been a long time since I’d heard any talk of angels…

The woman’s presentation did not disappoint. She related both her own angelic encounters and those of many others which she’d collected and researched. She’d certainly done her homework ruling out other explanations for many impossible-to-explain events. Afterward, while we enjoyed refreshments, a few hard-to-convince skeptics admitted that they were truly moved by what they’d heard. So was I.

Over the years, I’ve been privy to similar accounts. Because I’m willing to listen, many people have shared their stories with me. They most often begin with: “I’m going to tell you this, Mary, because I know you’ll believe me…” Their sincerity and their own efforts to explain away what occurred leave me no choice but to accept the validity of what they share.

Our current difficult times invite us to open ourselves to God’s angels. Whether or not they fit the descriptions offered in the scriptures and other holy writings matters little to me. Having someone in our corners from the spiritual realm is a great gift. Though I believe God is always with me, it’s nice to know that God’s helpers are here as well.

Dear God, thank you for these unexplained glimpses of your goodness.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Comfort Them

You shall not fear the terror of the night
nor the arrow that flies by day.

Psalm 91:5

I’ve shared before that we celebrate our granddaughters’ birthdays with overnight stays. Though the girls look forward to these special times with Grandpa and me, bedtime is sometimes a challenge. Each one chooses her bedroom. Still, it’s unfamiliar territory after sunset. The creaks in our house aren’t the same as those at home and our night-lights aren’t quite bright enough to calm all of their fears. So it is that saying prayers and good night has become a more lengthy ritual here than it is at home with Mommy and Daddy.

I admit that I enjoy reassuring my granddaughters. It allows me the opportunity to pay forward the kindness God has extended to me. It also reminds me to offer a prayer of thanks for the consolation which has carried me through so many difficult times.

Every day, you and I encounter people who need reassurance in situations far more disparate than my granddaughters’ night-time uncertainties. These are perfect opportunities to pay it forward when it comes to God’s love. Whatever form our support takes, it will make all of the difference in the world to the person who needs it. It will also make a difference in this world-at-large.

Dear God, help us to be as creative as you are when it comes to doling out our love.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God Walks Us Through It All

God will rescue you from the snare of the fowler
and from the destroying pestilence.

Psalm 91:3

Psalm 91 inspired a familiar hymn which I hear at most funerals. Isn’t it odd that, in the midst of our losses, we sing about God’s rescuing us from the snare of such sadness? Though this may seem odd, this is precisely what God has done every time I’ve found myself steeped in misery.

Two weeks ago, I attended a wake where a mother sat sadly before her daughter’s casket. Though this mother was elderly and her daughter had lived five decades, the setting was not as things should be. Parents shouldn’t bury their children at any age. Yet, how often they do. As I approached this woman, my thoughts turned to Mary, the mother of Jesus. It occurred to me that even Jesus’ family wasn’t spared this unthinkable sorrow. When I noticed the rosary in her hand, I realized that this mourning mother was deep in conversation with one who knew just how she felt. I know that God shared in her sorrow as well.

Our earthly lives do include a few givens… taxes and death, right? Unfortunately, though our time on this earth includes ample opportunities to enjoy God’s gifts, it also includes a measure of sorrow for each one of us. When we sing or pray about God rescuing us, this doesn’t guarantee that God will dispel our misery or scoop us up and away from our troubles. It does mean that God will walk us through our pain toward better things to come.

Loving God, thank you for walking with me.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved