Q… Quiet

Be still, and know that I am God…
From Psalm 46:10

Q is for Quiet. I cannot take credit for this word. When I first tackled this alphabet some years ago, a friend from church stopped to tell me that she is enjoying my take on the ABCs. I told her that I’d hoped this approach would help me to focus for at least twenty-six days of writing. I added that I didn’t know what I was thinking when I undertook this endeavor. “Some letters are tough,” I moaned. “What am I going to write for O and Q?” Before she could speak, I added, “I’ve been thinking about “opus” for O. Maybe I can do something with that. But Q?” With that, I saw the bulb light up over her head. “Quiet,” she almost whispered. “You know… quiet.” With that, I hugged Carol and thanked her for the inspiration. Q is for Quiet… Of course! It worked back then and I’m going with it again today!

As I write, I can’t help laughing at myself because I relish the quiet around me. Why didn’t I think of that? When I’m home alone, the television set is off and other noisy distractions are scarce. I’m a master at creating a quiet environment. Nonetheless, this isn’t the quiet which Carol suggested. Carol nudged me to consider that internal quiet where we encounter God. This is the quiet that often comes in unexpected places at unexpected times. I find this inner quiet most often when I venture outdoors. Because the near-zero temperatures keep me inside much of the time, I’ve had to look elsewhere. Though I’ve found this inner quiet here at home and in both a full and empty church, I’ve also found it at the mall. There was something about the faces I passed and the interactions between parents and children, spouses and groups of teens which revealed the Almighty to me. I didn’t pray a word as those quiet revelations spoke all that needed to be said.

Yes, I must be still, for it is in the quiet stillness that I come to know God.

Dear God, thank you for filling the quiet with your loving presence.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Q… Quiet…

Be still, and know that I am God…
From Psalm 46:10

Q is for Quiet. Moments of quiet are amazing gifts. I relish the quiet around me. When I’m home alone, the television is off and other noisy distractions are scarce. I’m a master at creating a quiet environment. Still, this isn’t the best of the quiet I’ve experienced. I consider myself most fortunate when I experience that internal quiet where I encounter God.

This is the quiet that often comes in unexpected places and at unexpected times. As I struggled to write this afternoon, I realized that I needed a measure of quiet with God if I was going to produce anything worthwhile. I ventured outdoors to stroll around our yard. The sun shone brightly above me while a brisk breeze did its best to distract me. Oddly, though I could hear leaves rustling the entire time, I found precisely what I needed. In every flower my husband had planted and in every shrub I’d trimmed, I found quiet inspiration. Creation’s sound effects couldn’t keep this inner quiet at bay. Though I didn’t utter a single prayer as I absorbed the beauty, I knew God was listening to my every thought, breath and heartbeat.

Q is for quiet… that wonderful quiet in which I come to know God almost as well as God knows me.

Dear God, thank you for filling the quiet around me with your loving presence.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Dance to The Spirit’s Music!

May and June have proven to be very busy. My husband and I have or will be involved with an assortment of baptisms, graduations, birthday celebrations and weddings. We celebrated Mother’s Day and we happily look forward to Father’s Day. In the end, an amazing assortment of God’s children will have gathered at each of these events. More importantly, an amazing exhibition of God’s Loving Spirit among us will have unfolded as well. Though taken alone these events may seem to be commonplace, each is extraordinary in some way. A few weeks ago, one particular happening proved extraordinary in the most unexpected and amazing ways…

When a good friend approached his fiftieth birthday, his wife and children decided that this milestone called for a party. Their dear husband and dad had recently completed some extremely demanding training and he’d had a bit of a health-scare. To celebrate his successful outcomes in both areas, our friend’s family organized a gathering in his honor. My dear husband and I had the good fortune to be included. When the day arrived, the weather was uncharacteristically cooperative, so Mike and I spent the entire morning and afternoon working outdoors. Tired as we were afterward, we set aside our work to join our friends for what proved to be a truly enjoyable evening. When we arrived, the entire family warmly welcomed us in. After greeting the other guests, we settled in for lots of pleasant conversation and a delicious meal. It was shortly afterward that another friend pulled me aside and pointed out the karaoke machine. “What?” I asked. “Are we going to use it?” My friend assured me that the machine wouldn’t have a moment’s rest that evening. As the party continued, nothing proved to be more true than that observation…

Before I continue, I assure you that I know what karaoke is, that I love to sing and that I love to dance. I also admit that I’ve never used a karaoke machine, I’m a mediocre singer and I’m a terrible dancer. Before your imaginations enter high gear, I assure you that I drank very little, if anything, which might have inspired my participation that evening. Having said all of that, I also admit to having joined in singing and dancing to almost every song that was played for three hours. The best part of all of this is that the other guests did the same. They assured me that participating with abandon was the best way to unwind, to rejoice and to celebrate the moments at hand; yes, each and every one of those moments at hand. All the while, we joined as one to cheer on the-holder-of-the-microphone, all who served as his or her chorus and all who danced. As for me, a sense of joy and belonging and the absolute freedom to be me filled me up. I determined in short order that this was the best party I’d attended in my entire life.

My revelry culminated in my dear husband’s willingness to lead the singing of Mr. Bojangles. This 1968 release (Jerry Jeff Walker, 1968, Atco Records) has been a favorite since I first heard it. As Mike sang, I couldn’t help dancing as the story of the drifter-turned-dancer unfolded. When Mike sang about the poor man’s dog dying, I shed a few tears and touched my heart. When Mike sang, “Whoa, he jumped so high, clicked his heels…”, I couldn’t help myself. Though I’d never ever dared to do this before, something compelled me to click my heels as well. And so I did. I honestly didn’t realize the amazement of my feat until this roomful of friends gasped and then cheered in delight. Much to my surprise, I did the same twice more before Mike finished that song…

I share this story on Pentecost Sunday with good reason. I admit that, in spite of my productive day, I went to that party with a heavy heart. Old worries had resurfaced and I wondered if I’d be able to set them aside long enough to celebrate our friend’s birthday. As you see, my fear was unfounded. The loving spirit of those gathered that evening not only dispelled the negativity which threatened, but also filled me with absolute joy! You know, Jesus’ friends awaited the first Pentecost with far greater trepidation than my own. They’d arrived at Jerusalem in triumph only to have Jesus arrested and condemned five days later. Most of Jesus’ friends deserted him as he hanged dying on the cross. Those who remained could do nothing to save him. When Jesus rose and appeared among them, he remained for forty days. All the while, hope eased its way back into the disciples’ hearts until Jesus left them once again. Jesus’ parting words included a call to proclaim the good news to every creature and a promise that Jesus would always be with them. Still, when Jesus left, hope escaped his friends once again and the disciples hid themselves away from the people. It was in the midst of wringing their hands and wondering how they might survive this second loss of Jesus that God’s Loving Spirit filled them up. Finally, the disciples understood. Finally, Jesus’ message made sense of this life and the next. With that, the disciples burst out of hiding to proclaim their good news to all who would listen. God’s Loving Spirit propelled them just as it propels us forward again and again.

You know, I’ll never forget that wonderful birthday gathering. The loving spirit which permeated my friend’s home gifted everyone present with a mini-Pentecost of sorts. I think each one of us had a part in sweetening the joy of that evening and in fueling all of our hope in the reality of good things to come. Though life isn’t perfect for any of us, God’s love for us is perfect. And this is all that matters. On this Pentecost and every day after, may each of us sense God’s Loving Spirit within us and find reason to click our heals and to dance once again.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Q is for…

Be still, and know that I am God…
From Psalm 46:10

Q is for Quiet. Moments of quiet are amazing gifts. I relish the quiet around me. When I’m home alone, the television is off and other noisy distractions are scarce. I’m a master at creating a quiet environment. Still, this isn’t the best of the quiet I’ve experienced. I consider myself most fortunate when I experience that internal quiet where I encounter God.

This is the quiet that often comes in unexpected places at unexpected times. As I struggled to write this afternoon, I realized that I needed a measure of quiet with God if I was going to produce anything. I ventured outdoors to walk under the sunny sky in a brisk breeze. Oddly, though I could hear leaves rustling the entire time, I found precisely what I needed. Creation’s sound effects didn’t keep this inner quiet at bay. Though I didn’t utter a single prayer all the while, I felt God was listening to my every thought, breath and heartbeat.

Q is for quiet… that wonderful quiet in which I come to know God almost as well as God knows me.

Dear God, thank you for filling the quiet with your loving presence.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Q… for Quiet

Be still, and know that I am God…
From Psalm 46:10

Q is for Quiet. Moments of quiet are amazing gifts. I relish the quiet around me. When I’m home alone, the television is off and other noisy distractions are scarce. I’m a master at creating a quiet environment. Still, this isn’t the best of the quiet I’ve experienced. I consider myself most fortunate when I experience that internal quiet where I encounter God.

This is the quiet that often comes in unexpected places at unexpected times. As I struggled to write this afternoon, I realized that I needed a measure of quiet with God if I was going to produce anything. I ventured outdoors to walk under the sunny sky in a brisk breeze. Oddly, though I could hear leaves rustling the entire time, I found precisely what I needed. Creation’s sound effects didn’t keep this inner quiet at bay. Though I didn’t utter a single prayer all the while, I felt God was listening to my every thought, breath and heartbeat.

Q is for quiet… that wonderful quiet in which I come to know God almost as well as God knows me.

Dear God, thank you for filling the quiet with your loving presence.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Corpus Christi

When I turned my calendar page to June, I saw two graduations, Father’s Day, a wedding, a retirement party, a dance recital, our family picnic and several birthdays which promise to make this a very busy month. I cannot say that I mind because each event involves someone who has touched my life in a uniquely positive way. After studying that calendar page for a few more minutes, I could not help offering a prayer of thanksgiving for all of the people who have blessed my life. It occurred to me that these people who have influenced me so deeply seem at peace with themselves, with their lives in this world of ours and in their relationships with God. This inner peace seems to have freed them to embrace the gifts of each new day and to place the needs of others before their own. Through many varied and sometimes unexpected encounters, these remarkable people have shared something of themselves with me which urges me on toward that same peace and a few good deeds of my own.

As I began this writing for today’s feast of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, I realized that my calendar encounter gifted me with more than a reason to list the people for whom I am grateful. As I considered those who have influenced me for the better, I found a common thread. Each one, in his or her own way, reflected the essence of today’s feast in our encounter.

When acknowledging The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, most of us cannot help turning our thoughts to Jesus’ last meal with his disciples. After all, it was at this Passover Meal that Jesus broke bread, gave it to is disciples and said, “This is my body.” He did the same with a cup of wine, saying “This is my blood.” Afterward, he asked them to do this in his memory. What we may not recall as readily is that apron which Jesus put on before washing his disciples’ feet. When Peter protested because he felt his beloved teacher was above washing anyone’s feet, Jesus explained that this was precisely what he had come to do. Jesus hoped, of course, that his disciples would eventually understand his message of love, service and welcome –the sources of true holiness.

You know, the gospel selected for today’s feast is not a Last Supper narrative. Rather, Luke’s gospel (9:11-17) provides one of four retellings of the miracle of the loaves and fishes. This event is the only miracle reported in each of the four gospels. While the disciples missed the significance of what occurred among the crowds that day, early Christians came to appreciate the meaning of the blessing, breaking and sharing of bread and fish. Offering nourishment to the hungry provided one poignant example of God’s call for us to care for one another. Jesus echoed that call when he shared meals with a variety of sinful outcasts who had been abandoned by their own faith communities. Jesus echoed that call when he healed the leper, the blind man and the Roman’s Centurion’s servant. Jesus echoed that call in his parables which reveal the God who cherishes each and every one of us. Jesus echoed that call in every look, every touch, every accepting and healing embrace which spoke God’s love to a suffering soul. Today, we celebrate The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ to acknowledge the One who gives his body, his blood and his loving heart to every one of us.

It seems to me that our best response to today’s feast is an active response. Jesus was at peace with himself, with his place in this world and in his relationship with his Father God and God’s Holy Spirit. This peace freed Jesus to embrace the gift of each new day and to place the needs of others before his own. This peace freed Jesus to leave the gift of himself among us.

Today, you and I are invited to celebrate by finding this peace within our own hearts. When we do, like Jesus, we will place the needs of others before our own. Like Jesus, we will transform the world and the hearts of those we have been given to love one good deed at a time.
©2013 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved