Always Welcome!

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

Psalm 23:5

When I was a little girl, dinner time was the best part of my day. Though I enjoyed our meals which were typical of a blue-collar family of the era, I enjoyed the family which gathered to partake of them far more. Because my dad worked nights, dinner time was our first opportunity to spend quality time with him most days. This was “morning” to him and my dad almost always exhibited his sense of humor as he started his new day. We often laughed as much as we chewed throughout these shared meals.

Happily, my parents’ welcoming spirits remain with their children. We all do our share of opening our homes and our hearts to others. I’m particularly grateful that my parents’ example taught me to extend hospitality even to those who are less than friendly toward me. At my parents’ table, I found the tools and the willingness to invite in any of God’s children who want to take a seat and “chew” on whatever is on their minds. These tools have served me well all of my life.

It seems to me that we have no better example of welcoming others than we find in God. Jesus did an amazing job of revealing God’s loving ways toward all of humankind. In our goodness and our sinfulness, God finds us worthy of the present moment and of the amazing things to come!

Welcoming God, you respond to all who call your name. Even when we fail to turn to you, you welcome us into your embrace.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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They Serve and Protect Us

Upon their hands, the angels shall bear you up,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.

Psalm 91:12

On this Veteran’s Day, I cannot help thinking about those who serve and protect us both nearby and far away. It seems that every passing day gives reason for us to pray a bit more fervently for their safety. Whether they serve us overseas or here at home, these dedicated personnel have set aside their personal lives to do so. Ones politics doesn’t matter in their regard. They serve us and protect us regardless.

Though I know God remains with each one in spite of what may come his or her way, it is a worthy endeavor to keep them in our prayers just the same. At the same time, let’s add a prayer of thanks for the hundreds of thousands of veterans among us. Though it is only recently that we’ve acknowledged the toll taken by active military service, all of our veterans have suffered in one way or another simply because they have served this country of ours.

Happy Veterans Day, Dear Veterans and Veterans-in-the making. Thank you for everything!

Dear God, bless them generously and be with them all.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Angelic Friends

To the angels God has given the command
to guard you in all your ways.

Psalm 91:11

Some time ago, my sister invited me to accompany her to a talk at her church by a woman who believes strongly in the presence of angels in our lives. I happily tagged along because the topic was familiar territory to me. Very early on, the good sisters taught me about God and about these special helpers who dutifully keep an eye on each one of us. It had been a long time since I’d heard any talk of angels…

The woman’s presentation did not disappoint. She related both her own angelic encounters and those of many others which she’d collected and researched. She’d certainly done her homework ruling out other explanations for many impossible-to-explain events. Afterward, while we enjoyed refreshments, a few hard-to-convince skeptics admitted that they were truly moved by what they’d heard. So was I.

Over the years, I’ve been privy to similar accounts. Because I’m willing to listen, many people have shared their stories with me. They most often begin with: “I’m going to tell you this, Mary, because I know you’ll believe me…” Their sincerity and their own efforts to explain away what occurred leave me no choice but to accept the validity of what they share.

Our current difficult times invite us to open ourselves to God’s angels. Whether or not they fit the descriptions offered in the scriptures and other holy writings matters little to me. Having someone in our corners from the spiritual realm is a great gift. Though I believe God is always with me, it’s nice to know that God’s helpers are here as well.

Dear God, thank you for these unexplained glimpses of your goodness.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Comfort Them

You shall not fear the terror of the night
nor the arrow that flies by day.

Psalm 91:5

I’ve shared before that we celebrate our granddaughters’ birthdays with overnight stays. Though the girls look forward to these special times with Grandpa and me, bedtime is sometimes a challenge. Each one chooses her bedroom. Still, it’s unfamiliar territory after sunset. The creaks in our house aren’t the same as those at home and our night-lights aren’t quite bright enough to calm all of their fears. So it is that saying prayers and good night has become a more lengthy ritual here than it is at home with Mommy and Daddy.

I admit that I enjoy reassuring my granddaughters. It allows me the opportunity to pay forward the kindness God has extended to me. It also reminds me to offer a prayer of thanks for the consolation which has carried me through so many difficult times.

Every day, you and I encounter people who need reassurance in situations far more disparate than my granddaughters’ night-time uncertainties. These are perfect opportunities to pay it forward when it comes to God’s love. Whatever form our support takes, it will make all of the difference in the world to the person who needs it. It will also make a difference in this world-at-large.

Dear God, help us to be as creative as you are when it comes to doling out our love.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God Walks Us Through It All

God will rescue you from the snare of the fowler
and from the destroying pestilence.

Psalm 91:3

Psalm 91 inspired a familiar hymn which I hear at most funerals. Isn’t it odd that, in the midst of our losses, we sing about God’s rescuing us from the snare of such sadness? Though this may seem odd, this is precisely what God has done every time I’ve found myself steeped in misery.

Two weeks ago, I attended a wake where a mother sat sadly before her daughter’s casket. Though this mother was elderly and her daughter had lived five decades, the setting was not as things should be. Parents shouldn’t bury their children at any age. Yet, how often they do. As I approached this woman, my thoughts turned to Mary, the mother of Jesus. It occurred to me that even Jesus’ family wasn’t spared this unthinkable sorrow. When I noticed the rosary in her hand, I realized that this mourning mother was deep in conversation with one who knew just how she felt. I know that God shared in her sorrow as well.

Our earthly lives do include a few givens… taxes and death, right? Unfortunately, though our time on this earth includes ample opportunities to enjoy God’s gifts, it also includes a measure of sorrow for each one of us. When we sing or pray about God rescuing us, this doesn’t guarantee that God will dispel our misery or scoop us up and away from our troubles. It does mean that God will walk us through our pain toward better things to come.

Loving God, thank you for walking with me.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Be Peacemakers, One and All

Say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God in whom I trust.”

Psalm 91:2

It has been a week since a shooter decided to leave his mark upon unsuspecting New Yorkers who were out to enjoy a beautiful fall afternoon. Because it was Halloween, the assailant seems to have felt certain that numerous victims would be his for the taking. As it happened, this assessment proved accurate. Eight people were killed and numerous others were wounded in some way. Had the man not been stopped, notes he left indicate that he would have moved on to make victims of others in his path.

I was unaware of all that had occurred until later that evening because I’d spent the day with my grandson. Later at home, I looked with tearful eyes at the wall where our grandchildren’s photos hang. Without thinking, I said aloud, “I hope we can fix this before you grow up and I hope each of you sees to it that this never happens again.” The tears flowed more freely when I realized that I’d uttered similar words after the Las Vegas shooter’s assault.

I began working my way through Psalm 91 with yesterday’s reflection and I’ll continue for a while longer. This particular Psalm celebrates God’s care for each one of us. In the midst of this world’s ongoing violence, it seems appropriate to acknowledge God’s very real love and concern for us. It also seems appropriate for me and for all of us to challenge ourselves to counter that violence and to share God’s love at every opportunity. Our simple attempts to insert calm and peace into the moments at hand are a great way to start.

Dear God, you are our refuge and our strength. Help us to be the same for one another.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved