Seeds of Hope

A man scatters seed on the ground.
He goes to bed and gets up day after day.
Through it all, the seed sprouts and
grows without his knowing how it happens.

From Mark 4:26-27

It was a month ago when we had three trees removed. Though this was done quite carefully, three gaping hols remained in their places. When our dedicated landscaper planted three much smaller trees in the area, those holes remained. He filled each small abyss with soil. After packing it into place, he seeded and watered. Daniel advised us not to worry about the grass. “Worry about everything else you have to do. The grass will take care if itself,” he said. Though we had plenty of time on our hands due to our stay-in-place status, we heeded Daniel’s advice. We actually accomplished a lot indoors and outdoors while we ignored that grass seed. A few weeks later, while my husband and I checked on the flowers he’d planted, we were pleasantly surprised. Amazingly lush growth had sprung from those one-time holes in our lawn. My husband smiled as he noted that Daniel’s and our faith in that grass seed was well placed.

You know, God places faith in the seeds you and I plant every day. Sometimes, our endeavors are long-term. Sometimes, we must do what we can in a given moment and move on. In either case, we do our best and hope for the best. In either case, God is pleased with the our efforts.

Trusting God, you have great faith in our ability to sow seeds of goodness wherever we are. Help us to do this as best we can as we return our world and one another to health.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

What Can I Do?

And let us consider how we may encourage
one another on toward love and good deeds…

Hebrews 10:24

I realize that I’ve been in a bit of a rut as of late. I suppose life in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic has done this to us all to some degree. You’ve likely noticed while reading these posts that I’m full of impatience. The state of our world and of the many institutions which provide structure to our daily lives are the reason for this. I feel a great sense of urgency which demands that the powers-that-be do something to improve life on this planet. At the same time, I feel impelled to take action myself as well. I did reach out to that neighborhood support group, but there is so much more to do!

As I write, I wonder if all of my fretting has given the Lord God reason to laugh. God knows better than I that we humans have struggled with the results of our use of free will since time began. God also knows better than I that in our brighter moments, when we allow the goodness within us to light our way, we are capable of transforming the worst situations into amazing opportunities.

Perhaps God hasn’t been laughing at me after all. Rather, God has smiled in my direction and imparted a bit of Divine Wisdom in the process. It occurs to me that, though I may not be able to alleviate all of this world’s woes, I can certainly do something in my little corner of this world. Let’s see. What can I do today?

Patient God, as long as we care, we are capable of great good. Help me and all of us to use our energy and resources to make that goodness a reality.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

At Home…

Joseph went to the region of Galilee.
There he settled with them in a town called Nazareth.

From Matthew 2:23

While in Israel, we visited Nazareth. Jesus, Mary and Joseph lived there from the time Jesus was a little boy. Mary had also grown up there. It was in Nazareth that Mary discovered she would be the mother of Jesus.

The Basilica of the Annunciation rests over Mary’s home. Our archaeologist guide cited first century evidence which indicates that this place is indeed where Mary grew up and where it is believed the Angel Gabriel visited her. A small grotto in the church houses a portion of Mary’s home. After viewing that area, we walked next to the church where another portion of Jesus’ neighborhood has been excavated. There we viewed a Nazareth home likely similar to that of Jesus and his parents. It isn’t unreasonable to believe that Mary had walked into that home to visit a neighbor or that the boy Jesus had run through it in pursuit of a playmate. It isn’t unreasonable to imagine Joseph the Handyman was there as well, perhaps to carve into a wall to create a ledge for storage.

In Nazareth, I was completely overwhelmed by the past, a past in which I felt I had a share. The events which unfolded in Nazareth two thousand years ago prepared Jesus and his family for what was to come. The neighborliness of Joseph and Mary impacted Jesus’ behavior toward others as a child and in adulthood. All of this had everything to do with the manner in which Jesus lived his adult life. All of this has everything to do with the way I live my life as well.

That day in Nazareth, I celebrated with my long-ago family who remain with me even today.

Dear God, thank you for the many hints of your presence which sustain us.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Instinctively Good

Light shines through the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious and merciful and just.

Psalm 112:4

I’ve been blessed by the kindness of many people. When I thank them for their efforts, they respond, “It was nothing!” or “Don’t be silly!” or “What did I do?” Their good deeds are so habitual that they fail to realize the impact they have upon the rest of us.

It seems to me that this is what “being good” is all about: Simply doing our best to respond lovingly to those we meet along the way. Many times, our smile will be enough. Occasionally, time spent just listening will do the trick. Sometimes, we will need to give of our talents or our treasure to make things right for a suffering soul. Whatever the case, it seems that our gut instincts serve us well when it comes to doing good. I think that those internal urges which nudge us toward our good deeds are strategically inspired by our very wise Creator. All we need to do is respond.

Creator God, you fashioned us with a natural desire to do good. Help us never to miss an opportunity to live up to your expectations.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

G… God

For this is our God,
and we are the people God shepherds,
the flock whom God guides.

Psalm 95:7

G is for God… and goodness, grace, generosity, gentleness, gift, gladness, glory, gospel, grandeur, gratitude, growth, gumption and a gaggle of other descriptors which apply to the God I have come to know and love.

Regardless of the name you prefer or the context in which you pray, God is all of these things and more for you, for me and for every soul blessed with the gift of life. Whether we were raised down the street from our church as I was or were never exposed to anything remotely similar, God is here for us.

For me, the evidence lies deep within. I’ve been aware of God’s presence in my life for as long as I can remember. If you are searching for more concrete evidence, consider this. Numerous books have been published and countless other references have been cited in the distant and recent past regarding encounters with life after this life. Many have passed through death’s threshold and returned to share their experiences. Whether a believer, an agnostic or an atheist beforehand, these travelers to the Other Side speak of the unconditional love, peace and acceptance which greeted them. Most conclude with great certainty that they have met God.

Though most of us will never return from this journey, we are gifted with God’s loving presence in our lives today. For me, the implications are twofold. First, I must cultivate my relationship with God as this is the source of the greatest joy I know this life. Second, I must share the benefits of this relationship by cultivating my relationships with those God has given me to love. After all, the best gifts are those which we share.

Generous and Gracious God, thank you for you.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

On My Way…

Dearly Beloved, we are God’s children now…
From 1 John 3:2

I decided to use a free afternoon to clean and organize my desk. I admit that I need to do this far more frequently than most people. Apparently, I find it impossible to part with a good quote, allegedly important notes or an inspiring story. This time, I found a wrinkled page of notes which summarized something I’d read about St. Therese of Lisieux a long time ago…

Therese who is lovingly referenced as The Little Flower didn’t always merit that designation. Poor Therese realized this at the ripe old age of thirteen. It was then that Therese realized the selfishness of her ways. Poor Therese was the youngest in her family and she was prone to tantrums whenever things upset her. It was Christmas Eve when she overheard a life-changing comment from her father. He suggested to Therese’s sisters that they get through Christmas Eve as quickly as possible so they could be finished with Therese’s outbursts for the day. Sadly, poor Therese had no idea that she’d caused so much pain for the people whom she loved most in this world. It was within minutes of hearing her father’s frustration wit her that Therese resolved to change her ways.

Year’s later, Therese described this event as her “Christmas Conversion”. It was from that moment on that Therese began to live according to what she later called her “Little Way.” Through all of this, Therese realized that God loved her just as her family had loved her in spite of herself. As a result, Therese spent the remainder of her short life convincing others that God loves them just as completely.

I admit that I stopped cleaning my desk long enough to considered my contributions to the world around me. Is “Mary’s Way” as honorable an endeavor as Therese’s had become? This gave me quite enough to think about as I finished cleaning my desk…

Loving God, you love us and you forgive us everything. This new year, be with us as we work on our own little ways of doing good.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved