Time To Change…

A time to tear down, and a time to build.
From Ecclesiastes 3:3

Up to now, change has been difficult for me. My established routines are usually helpful to me and to those concerned, so it is that I stick with them. Was it five weeks ago or six that all of our routines changed drastically? I used to ask myself, “Why change what is working?” Over the past month, I’ve learned to transform change into something that is also working. I’ve adjusted and revamped, altered and replaced what was once the status quo. I’m grateful that the changes I’ve made have become the new and somewhat improved status quo.

In the process, I’ve discovered that it’s also the right time to tear down my resistance to change and to build upon the opportunities which change brings my way. While embracing these opportunities, I may just heal the restlessness in me. I may also heal those around me in new and unexpected ways. These difficult times have taught me that it’s always time to respond to the moments at hand as best we can and as only we can. We really do make all of the difference in our little corners of the world.

Loving God, help me to see change as the means to find joy and opportunity for myself and for those you have given me to love.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Let’s Do Our Part… All of Us!

“Lord, if you will do so, you can cure me.”
From Luke 5:12

When I was a little girl, my parents assured me that it is always appropriate to bring our troubles to God. We gathered in our living room to pray whenever serious illness or other maladies threatened. These prayerful gatherings and my parents’ seemingly familiar stance toward the Lord God encouraged me to speak plainly and directly in my own prayer. Though I would like to think that I have refined my approach a bit, I still find myself speaking with the Almighty as I would with my best friend. I never wonder if God is listening. Why question the obvious?

I admit that I’ve turned my eyes upward to moan and groan often for quite some time now. This world is in a sad state. While I try to do my best to care for those nearby, I also pray fervently that the broader situation for all of humankind will improve. Today, I pray that those who hold power in governments, businesses, educational institutions, science and research and… You get the idea. I’m praying that those with global, national, statewide and local power join us in searching our hearts and turning our eyes upward for guidance. May leaders in every capacity do the same. This world needs prudent and just, compassionate and peace-oriented governance more than ever. This world needs prudent and just, compassionate and peace-oriented people everywhere.

In the mean time, I don’t question God’s attentiveness to all of this. I also know that God always listens. Oddly, simply acknowledging these truths dispels the darkness and encourages my hope.

Dear God, thank you for listening. Now, please inspire us all to act with wisdom and generosity of spirit wherever we find ourselves.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserve

Love With A Child’s Heart

Become as little children and you will enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:3

A wise teacher once told me that if I ever wanted to know if a person was a good person I should watch the way children respond to him or her. Though I wasn’t necessarily convinced of Sister Imelda’s wisdom at the time, three decades of working with children and my own parenting experience support her assertion for the most part. Children somehow instinctively seem to know who does and who doesn’t have their best interests at heart. Though I realize children have suffered greatly at the hands of adults they may have misjudged, children more often than not seem to be great judges of character.

My own sons seemed to do this instinctively. When my parenting came from the heart, they complied with my wishes with little or no complaint. However, when I pushed them in directions which I myself wasn’t sold on, they balked. They kept me honest in many ways, helping me to keep my words and my deeds in sync with what I truly believed was right.

Though I haven’t been a child for more than half a century, I think I need to regain my childhood view of things. Back then, I assumed all was well and that everyone was lovable until someone gave me very specific reasons to feel otherwise. With so much negativity in the air these days, it seems I need to begin each day with my childhood’s positive outlook. At the very least, I’ll try to see the goodness in my circumstances and the lovableness in those around me. That goodness and lovableness might just last all day!

Loving God, help us to love another as you love us and help us to transform this world with that love.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Authentic in Word and Deed

When you read this, my dear husband and I will have returned from an unexpected second trip to Israel. I write “unexpected” because Mike and I were completely surprised by this opportunity. As it happened, our tour director’s able assistant was unable to accompany her on this year’s trek. As a result, Nancy asked Mike if he would consider coming along to help her to manage the group. My husband-the-traveler immediately responded in the affirmative. It was only after a minute or two that he qualified his response by adding that he should probably check with me before committing. Though I had been habitually reluctant to embark upon flights of serious length, last year’s adventure cured me. The people and places we encountered in Israel touched me deeply. This inspiration diminished any discomfort I’d felt while in air. I told Mike that he absolutely should make the trip and that I would do so as well.

One of the treasures I looked forward to seeing once again was our on-site tour guide. Yossi’s wealth of information, his passion for his work and his passion for life enhanced his commentary throughout. Though it took the entire duration of the tour to get to know Yossi with some depth, our effort was richly rewarded. Yossi didn’t always have access to his country’s treasures. He was raised in a Kibbutz and, as Yossi described it, “God was ripped from my heart as a young child.” Within that socialist environment, everyone worked to supply the community with what was needed and that was all that mattered. Yossi celebrated the day his family was able to leave that place to fend for themselves with some autonomy. At the same time, Yossi remained community-minded. He is keenly aware of the plight of the Israeli people and their neighbors both friendly and otherwise. He acknowledged that, while political conditions indicated otherwise, most of the people who occupy Israel get along with one another. Yossi also considers himself to be a secular Jew. Still, Yossi told us often, “You must pray for the people of Israel; for peace here.” I found this to be a curious request in light of his “secular” status. Yossi seemed to read my thoughts as he added, “You must do this. I don’t know how to pray, but you do.” While watching Yossi interact with those around him, I discovered that nothing was farther from the truth.

Yossi carried his backpack everywhere. Among the items he needed for the day, Yossi included musical instruments: his flute and a tiny guitar-like instrument, perhaps a balalaika. At our first stop in Caesarea, we visited the complex constructed by King Herod more than two thousand years ago. It includes a hippodrome, the ideal setting for the first of many concerts with which Yossi gifted us. Whenever the Spirit moved him, Yossi played. He offered his most precious concert in the Crusader church at Emmaus when he played Schubert’s Ave Maria. Yossi played with his eyes tightly closed as his music drifted heavenward. Yes, Yossi prays.

As I read today’s gospel (Mark 1:21-28), I considered what it was that caused Jesus’ contemporaries to take notice of his teaching. Unlike the scribes who lectured in the synagogue week after week, Mark tells us that Jesus offered “a new teaching with authority.” The implication, of course, is that perhaps the scribes weren’t as convincing in what they preached. The scriptures suggest that this was the case because the scribes’ words and actions were a mismatch. Mark tells us that, unlike them, Jesus spoke from the depths of his soul. There was no trepidation or uncertainty in his voice. Perhaps it was this certainty which allowed Jesus to cast out the demon who tormented that man in the crowd. Mark tells us that the demon was certainly convinced of Jesus’ authenticity because the demon addressed Jesus as “the Holy One of God.” Indeed, Jesus not only spoke of the Reign of God; he also made God’s presence in human history a reality through his compassionate responses to those he met along the way. In today’s vernacular, “Jesus talked the talk and he walked the walk.”

When Mike and I toured Israel with Yossi, Yossi didn’t merely share his observations. He illustrated his love for his homeland and for humankind in his every interaction. I determined that Yossi prays because he lives like a man who is attuned to God’s love and concern for us. This is the reason I took Yossi’s words to heart. My association with Yossi gave me a small taste of what those who followed Jesus experienced. In spite of their lowly stature, Jesus shared himself with them. The people took Jesus’ words to heart because he lived what he preached. Little did they know that Jesus truly was the Holy One of God. They had yet to discover that the life of this itinerant tradesman-turned-rabbi would change everything. For you and me, it’s different. We do know Jesus and all that he stands for. So it is that we do our best to live accordingly.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Change?

A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to tear down, and a time to build.

Ecclesiastes 3:3

Change is difficult for me. Though my established routines usually prove to be helpful to those concerned, this doesn’t seem to be the case these days. I often ask myself, “Why change what is working?” Today, however, I’d like to pose that question to a few others in my vicinity.

It’s not that I’m so stuck in my ways that I can’t deal with adjustments and replacements and revamping and alterations of the status quo. The problem is that I’d like these changes to be made with thought and with consideration for those involved and for those who will be impacted by them. Is something positive actually being accomplished?

Yes, change is difficult for me, not so much because of me, but because of its impact upon others who are very important to me. Perhaps it’s time to kill my inactivity and to do what I can to heal those around me. Perhaps it’s time to tear down the walls which hinder communication and to build relationships that thrive on openness. Perhaps the changes around me won’t be so difficult after all.

Loving God, help me to find the tools to transform the changes around me into opportunities for joy and productivity.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Be True

Now I have seen for myself and have testified…”
From John 1:34

A very wise teacher once told me that if I ever wanted to know whether or not a person was a good soul simply to watch the way children react to him or her. Though I was not necessarily convinced of Sister Imelda’s wisdom at the time, three decades of working with children and my own parenting experience have supported her assertion. Children somehow instinctively seem to know who does and who does not have their best interest at heart.

My own sons instinctively seemed to know a lot of things. When my parenting came from the heart, they complied with my wishes with little or no complaint. However, when I pushed them in directions which I myself was not sold on, they balked. They kept me honest in many ways, helping me to keep my words and my deeds in sync with what I truly believed was right.

Patient God, today and every day, help me to know my own heart and yours more intimately and help me to be true to both.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved