Loved Just As We Are

Though I’ve shared my fascination with bubbles before, a recent encounter and today’s scripture passages urge me to revisit this favorite topic. For as long as I can remember, I’ve kept a supply of bubbles in the cabinet under our kitchen sink. This began decades ago when our older son was a little boy. I introduced Little Mike to the joy of bubble-watching as soon as he was able to notice the bubbles I created around him. There is something magically mesmerizing about these delicately colored spheres. Whether they sail slowly in the still air or flit about in a brisk breeze, bubbles hold our attention until they literally pop out of sight. I’m convinced that our son shared my enthusiasm because he happily chased the bubbles I created. He was particularly pleased when a bubble rested nearby on the lawn, a leaf and sometimes on his own hand. Eventually, our firstborn learned to blow bubbles himself. He was in heaven and so was I! When little brother Tim came along and grew old enough to appreciate bubbles as well, his big brother happily joined his dad and me in our creative efforts. We blew bubbles for Timmy until he also became competent at this amazing art.

Throughout the years since, I’ve replenished my bubble inventory often. I’ve even made room on a shelf in the garage for those larger cylinder-shaped bottles with foot-long wands. When the wind cooperates, they allow me to create the largest and most plentiful bubbles ever. One never knows when bubbles will be needed to add a bit of joy to the moment at hand. As for me, in every instance of bubble-blowing I find myself incapable of suppressing a smile. Last weekend was no exception. Our granddaughters stayed with Grandpa and me while their parents attended a wedding. This trio consists of a seventh grader, a fifth grader and a third grader who usually present themselves as independent and mature preteens -yes, even that third grader! At least this is usually the case until they arrive at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s home. As soon as they walk through the door, they morph into little girls who enjoy playing with blocks and years-old toys. They also share their grandma’s love for blowing bubbles.

So it was that shortly after they arrived that day each of my granddaughters selected a bottle of bubbles from under the kitchen sink. After also taking some bubbles for me, the girls suggested that we head to the playground across the street. There they could run and blow bubbles to their hearts’ content. Since Grandpa would be busy with a wedding rehearsal until dinner, we had plenty of time for this outing. For an amazing hour, we blew bubbles in every direction. When the girls moved on to the playground equipment, I climbed atop a slide just high enough not to threaten by safety. From my above-ground perch, I blew bubbles wherever the girls ran. Those bubbles interrupted their play often. Sometimes, they chased my creations and sometimes they simply watched them float in the air. Perhaps my granddaughters appreciate the miracle of these delightful orbs as much as I.

As I rejoiced in my “bubble blessings” that afternoon, it occurred to me that this phenomenon hints at the delight God finds in each one of us. Though the film on my bubble wand looked the same every time I replenished it, every bubble I created took on its own coloring, shape and size. If I find such joy in breathing life into a bubble of soap film, imagine the elated expectation God feels when another of us emerges to embrace life on this earth! If I relish every moment with a bubble, whether it pops in three seconds or dances in the air for three minutes, imagine how precious each of our lives is to our beloved Creator! Whether we live for decades, an entire century or just a few days, there is never disappointment in the direction or length of our paths. God’s only hope in sending us on our way is that we do the best we can to delight in one another with as much love as we can muster all the while. The best part is that, just as I watch my bubbles for their entire life spans, God watches over every one of us!

I acknowledge that today’s scripture passages suggest some inconsistencies in the way God expresses this love for us. In the first reading, Isaiah (22:19-23) chastised the Hebrews who felt they were the only ones whom God would welcome into the Holy City. Isaiah insisted there was room for many others as well. This realization that God appreciates our differences is good news for us all. In his letter to the Hebrews (12:5-7, 11-13), Paul noted that much suffering would come to those who lived as God’s children. Though Paul described these hard times as God’s discipline, it seems to me that it is we humans who create much of this world’s misery. In the gospel (Luke 13:22-30), Luke tells us that the disciples asked Jesus if only a few would be saved. After offering a bit of caution regarding the propensity of some to think that self-proclaimed good deeds would get them into heaven, Jesus continued: “For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” While scripture scholars and preachers explain these passages further, I’m taking a lesson from the miracle of bubbles: In spite of our color, size, shape and path, God delights in our existence. In spite of and because of our uniqueness, God’s affection and good will toward each of us remain intact. God breathes life into us with great hope, far more hope than I breathe into my bubbles. Indeed, God breathes life into each one of us with the full expectation that we will evolve into the amazingly unique souls whom God will welcome home one day.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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We Can Do It!

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

Hebrews 10:24

I admit that recent posts reveal my impatience regarding the state of our world and many of the institutions which provide structure to our daily lives. I feel a great sense of urgency which demands that the powers that be do something now to improve life on this planet. At the same time, I encourage myself and all of us to take action. But what are we to do?

As I write, I wonder if I all of my fretting has given God reason to laugh. God knows better than I that this world has struggled with the results of our use -and misuse- of free will since the first of us realized the power of this gift. God also knows better than I that in our brighter moments, when we allow the goodness within us to light our way, we’re quite 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 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 to improve things. Will you join me?

Patient God, you transform my worry into hope. As long as we care, we are capable of great good. Help me and all of us to make that great good a reality.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Worry or Do Something

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

Hebrews 10:24

Recently, I’ve been entertaining the possibility that I’m getting old. I find myself full of impatience regarding the state of our world and of the many institutions which provide structure to our daily lives. 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. But, where do I begin?

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.

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.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Loved Even More Than Bubbles!

For as long as I can remember, I’ve kept a supply of bubbles in the cabinet under our kitchen sink. This began when our older son Mike was just old enough to appreciate the joy of “bubble watching”. There is something magically mesmerizing about those colorful spheres. Whether they sail slowly in the still air or flit about in a breeze, they hold our attention until they pop out of sight and into nowhere. I’m convinced that my son shared my enthusiasm because he happily chased the bubbles his dad and I created. He was particularly pleased when a bubble rested on the lawn, a leaf or his own hand. Eventually, little Mike learned to blow bubbles on his own and he was in heaven! When Mike’s little brother came along and grew old enough to appreciate bubbles as well, Mike happily took over for his dad and me. He blew bubbles for Tim until that little boy also became competent at this amazing art.

Throughout the years since, I’ve continued to replenish my bubble inventory. They’ve provided ongoing entertainment to our nieces and nephews and the children of friends who stopped in. I’ve also brought bubbles enough to our family picnics to allow each of the children a chance to create his or her own variety of rainbow wonders. These days, my grandchildren enjoy my under-the-sink cache much to my delight. The truth is that in every instance of bubble-blowing I find myself incapable of suppressing a smile.

Last week I spent the day with our little grandson. I decided to take advantage of the morning’s breeze by enjoying an early walk. In the garage as I nestled Danny into his stroller, he pointed his finger and said, “Dah! Dah! Dat!” When I looked in the direction he indicated, I saw a bottle of bubbles. “Oh, wow!” I told Danny. “We can blow bubbles!” So it was that before we began our walk, we sat under a shady tree. For fifteen wonderful minutes, I blew bubbles which incited Danny to point and to giggle and to stare in awe. All the while, I marveled at each delightful orb. Though they looked quite similar as I blew life into them, each one took on its own coloring, shape and size. Each one also made its own way in a refreshing breeze that seemed to come from nowhere on that humid morning. Finally, Danny and I started our walk. In spite of the oppressive heat that began to take hold, nothing would diminish the delight Danny and I had found in those bubbles. As we strolled along, I had an unexpected bounce in my step and Danny happily pointed out “dah” and “dat” and “dit” all along the way.

As I rejoiced in my “bubble blessings” that morning, it occurred to me that this phenomenon hints at the delight God finds in every one of us. If I can find such joy in breathing life into a three-inch-diameter bubble of soap film, imagine the elated expectation God must feel when another of us emerges to embrace life on this earth! If I can relish every moment with a bubble whether it pops in three seconds or dances in the air for three minutes, imagine how precious each of our lives -short or long- is to our beloved Creator! There is never disappointment in the direction or length of our paths. God’s only hope in sending us on our way is that we do the best we can to delight in one another with as much love as we can muster all the while.

I acknowledge that some scripture passages suggest inconsistencies in the way God expresses this love for us. In Isaiah 22:19-23, the prophet chastises the Hebrews who feel they are the only ones whom God will welcome into the Holy City. Isaiah insists there is room for many others as well. In his letter to the Hebrews (12:5-7, 11-13), Paul adds that much suffering comes to those who live as God’s children. I imagine his followers scratching their heads in response. In Luke’s gospel (13:22-30), the disciples ask Jesus if only a few people will be saved. After offering a bit of caution regarding the propensity of some to think that self-proclaimed good deeds will get them into heaven, Jesus ends with, “For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

I’ve decided to leave it to scripture scholars and preachers to explain just what these passages meant to the audiences for whom they were written. As for me, I will take a lesson from the miracle of bubbles: In spite of our color, size, shape and path, God delights in our existence. In spite of and because of our uniqueness, God’s affection and good will toward each of us remain intact -always!

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Free Will… The Cost and The Perks

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

Hebrews 10:24

I admit that recent posts reveal my impatience regarding the state of our world and many of the institutions which provide structure to our daily lives. I feel a great sense of urgency which demands that the powers that be do something now to improve life on this planet. At the same time, I encourage myself and all of us to take action. But what are we to do?

As I write, I wonder if I all of my fretting has given God reason to laugh. God knows better than I that this world has struggled with the results of our use -and misuse- of free will since the first of us realized the power of this gift. God also knows better than I that in our brighter moments, when we allow the goodness within us to light our way, we are quite capable of transforming the worst situations into amazing opportunities.

Perhaps God has not been laughing at me after all. Rather, God has smiled in my direction and imparted a bit of 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 to improve things. Will you join me?

Patient God, you transform my worry into hope. As long as we care, we are capable of great good. Help me and all of us to make that great good a reality.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

More About God’s Love

Throughout Lent 2015 -and I hope always- I concern myself most with God’s love. It is not that I feel particularly deserving of Divine Affection. The truth is that I sometimes find myself running from God’s embrace because I am unsure of what to do with it. If I acknowledge God’s love, I must acknowledge that, to God, I am lovable. If I acknowledge God’s love, I must acknowledge that the least I can do is to share that love with those around me. If I acknowledge God’s love, I must acknowledge that this love is worth everything I will have to sacrifice to reveal God’s love through my life. You see, when I acknowledge God’s love, I commit myself to changing my little corner of the world as only I can. Yes, living God’s love is a daunting task which is the reason I am sometimes tempted to run away from it.

It is during these times of doubt that God’s persistence in loving me becomes most apparent. Before I began this writing, a ray of sunshine cut across the piles on my desk and urged me toward the window to see more. As I basked in the sunshine which warmed me quite nicely, I looked affectionately at the mounds of melting gray snow at the curb. At that moment, it occurred to me that God looks with far greater affection upon me. “I know. I know,” I said aloud. “You’re using that melting snow in ways I don’t realize, just as you’re using me.” With that, I returned to this writing with renewed energy and a bit of inspiration. God’s resolve to love you and me is indeed perpetual regardless of our frequent, but futile attempts to run away from it. The scriptures frequently underscore God’s affection for us. In the passages I cite today, God’s persistent love reveals itself once again.

In Jeremiah 31:31-34, the prophet tells us that God absolved the Israelites of every sort of evil and God continued to love them in spite of it all. Through Jeremiah, God assured all concerned: “…this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel… I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God and they shall be my people… All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the Lord, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.” St. Paul the Apostle offered further assurance through his letter in Hebrews 5:7-9. Paul reminded the people that God’s love became flesh in the person of Jesus, the source of salvation for all. Not leaving our understanding of his passion and death to chance, Jesus lived the thirty-three years beforehand to reveal God’s intent to us. Through every word and deed, Jesus revealed God’s continued care, unqualified forgiveness and never-ending love. In his gospel, John (12:20-33) underscored all of this when he quoted Jesus’ resolve: “…when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” Jesus promised to dismiss the pain of the cross, unbearable though it would be, to outstretch his arms to embrace us just as God had always done and just as God would continue to do.

This Fifth Sunday of Lent, we celebrate the amazing gift which is God’s unconditional love: The love which drove Jesus to endure his passion and death; the love which drew Jesus from the tomb to celebrate the salvation of humankind; the love which impelled Jesus to remain among the people for forty days, reassuring them with his peace and his promise of the Spirit to come. Jesus’ message of love was so convincing that the disciples overcame their own fear and spread the word regarding God’s love to all who would listen. This is the same love to which we attune our hearts during this Lent and always.

In the end, I realize that acknowledging God’s love is not quite as difficult as it seemed at the onset of this writing. All that any of us need to do is to embrace the opportunities in every moment we are given. Whether they involve hope or despair, blessings or loss, we will somehow to make it through. Whether we are filled with energy or dragging ourselves along, we will manage the tasks at hand. Some way and somehow, God’s love will see to it that we celebrate our joy with enthusiasm and that we survive our darkest moments with a bit of energy to spare. Throughout Lent 2015 -and I hope always- I concern myself most with God’s love. It is not that I feel particularly deserving of Divine Affection. I know I am deserving and so are you. God insists upon it!

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved