A Time To Be Free

God has made everyone appropriate to their time,
and has put the timeless into their hearts,
from beginning to end, the work which God has done.

Ecclesiastes 3:11

Though I enjoy the revelry with which we begin the month of July, this page of the calendar also reminds me of significant losses in my life. The first is my dad who left us on July 4 six decades ago. We gathered at his sister’s wake on July 4 some years later. As I prepared to write a July 4 reflection during another year, a dear friend battled cancer.

It was June that year when news of John’s impending recovery spread among his family and friends. He was a good man and a good priest and his life made all of the difference in the world to each of us. This news elicited a collective sigh of relief from all concerned.

With this good news to inspire me, I headed to my computer to write that reflection and a letter to John. Poor John was a captive fan to whom I sent my reflections and a letter each week. We would observe July 4th in a few days and the holiday set my tone. I wished John a generous measure freedom. My litany began with “…freedom from illness, freedom to breathe in as deeply as you want to –with no pain! I wish you freedom from chemotherapy and I wish you hair! I wish you the freedom to get back to the people and the work you love and the freedom to come and go as you please.”

It’s unlikely that John read that letter because he returned to the hospital a day after its writing. His struggle to breathe had become too much. When pneumonia set in, John lacked the stamina to fight it. It was twenty years ago today that John embraced the ultimate freedom which we’ll all enjoy one day.

Loving God, as I remember John and all of those I’ve lost, touch the hearts of all who mourn with your peace.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Advertisements

God Is Good!

“If I just touch his clothing,” she thought,
“I will get well.”

Mark 5:28

I know I shared this yesterday, but I’m grateful enough to repeat myself in this regard. I truly am grateful that my parents introduced me to God. Their perspectives regarding God’s love and concern made this life manageable for them and they’ve done the same for me. This shared awareness of our Creator gives me great insight into the many good people whom I’ve met along the way. Though we sometimes belong to different faith communities or to none at all, our shared membership in God’s family makes all of the difference in the world.

I’ve told you about her before. Still, thoughts about our relationships with God bring her to mind once again. Sister Gerard was convinced of one this over everything else: God is good! Sister Gerard first spoke this phrase to me six decades ago. My great-aunt was a dynamic and lively little nun. After spending much of her career teaching at a boarding school for boys, Sister shared, “I’ve taught convicts and bishops, lawyers, janitors and butchers, and I love them all. God put them all into my life. God is good!” When Sister Gerard was assigned to a parish school in Chicago, we were able to see her more often. I listened attentively as she shared stories about her teaching career and life among the sisters. Eventually, bouts with cancer mandated her assignment to the sisters’ mother-house. This kept her close to the hospital where she received treatment. During this final assignment, Sister Gerard busied herself by visiting the elderly sisters, of whom she was one, to keep them company during their hospitalizations.

Through all of this, Sister Gerard maintained her conviction regarding God. During her treatment, she frequently observed, “God is good!” At ninety-two, Sister Gerard discovered that her final bout was a losing battle. She smiled at me from her sickbed as she admitted, “I was a little upset that Jesus didn’t cure me this time around. Then, I thought about where I’m going and I thanked Him! God is so good!” When my sweet aunt passed away, her funeral was truly a celebration of new life.

Good God, thank you for my parents, Sister Gerard and all of the amazing people who share your goodness with the rest of us. Strengthen all of our faith in your goodness and love.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Twelve + One Miracles!

Out of the depths, we dance before you, O Lord,
because, Lord, you heard our voices and you stayed with us.
You gave us the wisdom to persist and to think and to pray until we got it right.
And, Lord, we did!

A joyous and grateful rewrite of Psalm 130

I went to bed Monday night with a prayer on my lips. Though I normally fall asleep quickly, that night, I lay wide-eyed as I began. After acknowledging that God has placed the welfare of this planet and of each one of us in our hands, I also acknowledged that God remains with us in everything. I dared to go on. I pointed out that I would never stand by in the midst of a tragedy and do nothing. I also pointed out that it is God who instilled this propensity to help within me. With that, I added the obvious…

“Dear God, I know you feel the same way. Please breathe enough know-how and stamina and courage into those divers to make their way to the remaining four soccer kids and their coach. Then, please give the same to those kids and that coach so they can all emerge from that cave alive and well.”

I normally don’t hear responses when I pray and Monday night was no exception. However, for unknown reasons, I fell asleep contemplating just how proud God must have been of all who were participating in this rescue. Seven countries assisted the Thais in these efforts. The Thai people stood by as so many did around the world offering ongoing prayers for all concerned.

This morning, I woke to the news that the recovery was complete. I looked upward through tears of joy to whisper my thanks that all twelve soccer kids and their coach were rescued. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. We can accomplish the amazing and, yes, the miraculous, when we work together for good.

God of Love, thank you for fashioning us with such remarkable abilities. Be with us as we try to emulate that rescue team’s good will at every opportunity.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Good God!

She had heard about Jesus and came up behind
him in the crowd and put her hand on his cloak.

Mark 5:27

A recent chance encounter revealed a shared experience of God’s presence in our lives. I discovered that my great-aunt Sister Gerard had taught this person many years ago. I knew that, above all else, Sister Gerard believed that God is good. My new friend had learned the same thing in Sister Gerard’s classroom. Sister Gerard first spoke this phrase to me more than five decades ago. My great-aunt was a dynamic and lively little nun! After spending much of her career teaching at a boarding school for boys, Sister Gerard shared, “I’ve taught convicts and bishops, lawyers, janitors and butchers and I love them all. God put them all into my life. God is good!” I listened happily as she shared stories about her teaching career and life among the sisters.

Eventually, bouts with cancer mandated her assignment to the sisters’ mother house. This kept her close to the hospital where she received treatment. Sister Gerard busied herself with visiting the elderly sisters, of whom she was one, during their hospitalizations. Through it all, Sister Gerard maintained her conviction regarding God.

At age ninety-two, Sister Gerard discovered that her final bout was a losing battle. She smiled at me from her sickbed as she admitted, “I was a little upset that God didn’t cure me this time around. Then, I thought about where I’m going and I thanked him! God is so good!” When my sweet aunt passed away, I imagined her dancing as she announced to all of heaven, “God is good!”

Good God, thank you Sister Gerard and all of the amazing people who share your goodness with the rest of us.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God Always Hears Us

I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart,
for you have heard the words of my mouth…

From Psalm 138:1-2

The month of June always prompts giddy thoughts of summer. As we considered our plans this time around, my husband and I studied our calendar. Our first priority is time spent with our grandchildren and our eldest granddaughter’s birthday. As Mike wrote her name next to the date on our calendar, a memory from long ago prompted a prayer of thanksgiving for this happy and healthy child…

When our little granddaughter was hospitalized, fear took hold. Though our sons had endured their shares of childhood illnesses, neither spent time in the hospital as a toddler. Our granddaughter seemed bright as could be and had spoken like an adult since shortly after she uttered her first words. “Still, she is so small,” I whispered.

I remember that drive to the hospital and my prayer as though it was yesterday. “We’re truly blessed, Lord, I know. I also know that we’re not immune to the tragedies of this life. Still, please heal this little one. I don’t know what we would do without her.” When we arrived, we found our granddaughter with an IV inserted in her arm, a sticker on her hospital gown and a smile on her face. Though she was pale and weak, Mommy reported that her first-born was responding well to treatment. As for this grandma, I breathed a sigh of relief and a very grateful prayer.

Loving God, I know you listen to all of our prayers. I am most grateful that your plans and mine were in harmony that day so long ago. Help me to remember that your love is always in sync with what is best for me.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

The Gift of God

“If I just touch his clothing,” she thought,
“I will get well.”

Mark 5:28

I am most grateful that my parents introduced me to God. Their perspectives regarding God’s love and concern made this life manageable for them and they have done the same for me. This shared awareness of our Creator gives me great insight into many good people whom I’ve met along the way. Though we sometimes belong to different faith communities or to none at all, our shared membership in God’s family makes all of the difference in the world.

I’ve told you about her before. Still, thoughts about our relationships with God bring her to mind again. Sister Gerard was convinced of one this over everything else: God is good! Sister Gerard first spoke this phrase to me more than five decades ago. My great-aunt was a dynamic and lively little nun! After spending much of her career teaching at a boarding school for boys, Sister Gerard shared, “I’ve taught convicts and bishops, lawyers, janitors and butchers, and I love them all. God put them all into my life. God is good!” When Sister Gerard was assigned to a parish school in Chicago, we were able to see her more often. How I listened as she shared stories about her teaching career and life among the sisters. Eventually, bouts with cancer mandated her assignment to the sisters’ mother-house. This kept her close to the hospital where she received treatment. During this final assignment, Sister Gerard busied herself by visiting the elderly sisters -of whom she was one- to keep them company during their hospitalizations.

Through all of this, Sister Gerard maintained her conviction regarding God. During her treatment, she frequently observed, “God is good!” At ninety-two, Sister Gerard discovered that her final bout was a losing battle. She smiled at me from her sickbed as she admitted, “I was a little upset that Jesus didn’t cure me this time around. Then, I thought about where I’m going and I thanked Him! God is so good!” When my sweet aunt passed away, her funeral was truly a celebration of new life.

Good God, thank you for my parents, Sister Gerard and all of the amazing people who share your goodness with the rest of us. Strengthen all of our faith in your goodness and love.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved