Traveling Light

“He instructed them to
take nothing on the journey
but a walking stick…”

Mark 6:8

Packing for this year’s trek to Israel was much less complicated than last year’s effort. This time, I weeded out all of those extra “what if” items which I never used. This time, I brought along only what I needed. In the end, my resolve to simplify paid off. I had less to carry and less to worry about. This freed me to concentrate on the people I met and places I had traveled to explore.

Perhaps this is what Jesus was getting at when he sent out his disciples with no luggage. Perhaps he didn’t want them to waste a moment of their time or a bit of their energy on the unimportant. Jesus hoped they would make the most of their travels among us at every opportunity.

It occurs to me that God invites us to travel lightly all of the time, not only when we’re embarking upon a vacation or an adventure of some sort. When we amble into the moment at hand with our hands free and our hearts free, we free ourselves to embrace the treasures which await us.

Generous God, thank you for this amazing world and the awesome people who fill it. Be with us as we explore the gifts we encounter every day along the way.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Advertisements

God’s Anointed Ones

The Lord is the strength of his people,
the saving refuge of his anointed.

Psalm 28:8

Sometimes, it’s difficult to feel “anointed”. We sometimes consider ourselves to be just one of many regardless of the group we’re in. I come from a large family. My earliest memories include major family gatherings for the holidays, christenings, birthdays, graduations, weddings and funerals. I grew up down the block from our church and numerous people passed our house on the way to Mass each week. I worked at a grocery store throughout high school and college where I tended to lines of customers all day long. When I married and began my teaching career, people of every sort continued to fill my life. There were times in each of these settings when I felt lost in the crowd. Then there were those other amazing times…

I’ve always been especially grateful for individual encounters with those around me. Whether a scheduled or haphazard meeting, it is during these precious moments together that I receive glimpses of many amazing souls. Most of them have no idea that they are contributing to my well-being and that of this world of ours simply by sharing their time. I take great pleasure in pointing out their unique gifts and my appreciation of them as often as possible.

You know, God looks upon each one of us as an anointed one. This is the reason God sends us out to bless those around us and to bless this world with the gift of ourselves.

Thank you, Dear God, for loving us so much that you trust us to bring you into this world!

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Never Fear…

“As for you, every hair of your head has been counted;
so do not be afraid of anything.”

Matthew 10:30

A friend from church passed away just before Christmas. George* is an octogenarian who’d been battling cancer for some time. Though he’d done remarkably well, treatment had taken its toll and his body was simply too tired to deal with any more. The last time I saw him, George told me he was feeling quite well and doing great. Still, when we parted, he gave me an unexpected hug which lasted longer than anticipated. I couldn’t help thinking at the time that he may not have been completely honest with me. Knowing George as I did, he likely didn’t want either of us to have to say good-bye. I admit that this gesture was generous to us both. I couldn’t have offered my farewell to him without a stream of tears.

Though my friend’s protective spirit saved me from my tears that day, I admit that they flowed freely when I received the news of his passing. Our conversations were always so lively and informative that I couldn’t imagine George any other way. This attitude remained throughout everything he’d endured. More importantly, his faith remained as well. George’s main concern seems to have been for those he would leave behind. As for George, he knew he was going home, the home we’ll all occupy one day.

Loving God, thank you for sharing George with me. Bless us all with a measure of his unshakable faith.

*I call my friend “George” because I erroneously referred to him with this misnomer when we first met.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Be God’s Rep

They carried to him all those afflicted…
He cured them all.

Matthew 4:24

The realities of winter and my daily routines are settling in. This holiday season brought much joy, but it also brought sorrow to many who suffered difficult losses. Though our routines soften the emotions involved a bit, mourning continues to take its toll. Still others suffer unexpected illnesses and complications which extend their treatment and recovery. There are also those who maintain their physical health, but who suffer injury to their psyches and to their spirits.

When the people we are given to love are burdened in any way, it’s difficult to see God’s hand in their suffering. It is this difficulty which reminds me of my New Year commitment. My intent is to bring the spirit and promise of Christmas into every moment of the New Year 2018. Though none of us can “see” God’s hand in anything, we can bring God’s hand to those who need us. We can bring comforting words or a listening ear. We can bring service by running errands or simply providing our company. We can cook a meal or make a phone call. We can all do something which will ease the suffering around us. Yes, we can be God’s hand in it all!

Faithful God, you trust us to bring your healing love to one another. Be with us in our efforts and please lend us your hand when we falter.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Always Safe

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

Psalm 91:5

My family will gather in a few days to continue our holiday festivities with a New Year’s Day celebration. For generations before I arrived, my dad’s Canadian family preserved this tradition which includes a blessing. Every New Year’s Day, our family gathers before our eldest family member to request their intercession. This year, my sister Rita will ask God’s gifts of happiness, health and prosperity for each one of us during the coming year.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve experienced a reassuring sense of peace as we kneel together for this annual prayer. Afterward, I feel oddly protected regardless of what life has in store for the next three hundred and sixty-four days. This was very important to me the year my dad passed away and for many years thereafter. Perhaps this is the reason I was always careful to help my own sons to feel safe. Perhaps this is the reason I hold my grandchildren so close these days. Perhaps this is the reason I’m compelled to remind all who will listen that God is always nearby, around us and within us, keeping us safe all the while.

Caring God, just as you lovingly remain with us, help us to treasure and nurture one another with equal devotion.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

A Gift of Peace

Salvation is nearer now than we first believed;
…the day is at hand.

From Romans 13:11

Some days ago, I shared that a young man I taught long ago had passed away. Though Robert was eight years old when I taught him, his fifty-one years seemed young to me as well. Because I also know Robert’s older sister whom I’d taught the year before him, I attended his funeral. I’d hoped to bring a bit of consolation to her and to all of Robert’s family.

I admit that from the moment I turned onto the street where their church is located, I felt as though I was headed home. I’d lived in this community when I was first married and I taught there for thirty years. When I entered the church, this homecoming took on a life of its own. Though I thought I knew only Robert’s sister, I encountered several familiar faces among those gathered there. After paying my respects, I settled into a pew to pray with them all.

As it happened, though I intended to be the bearer of consolation and encouragement, I was the recipient. In the kindness extended to me and in the pastor’s words to the family, I clearly heard…

“Have you forgotten that I am with you?
I know what’s bothering you.
You can’t do everything.
I’ve commissioned others to help. Let them!
Just do your best where you are. That’s all I ever ask.
I will take care of the rest.”

Though the pastor’s words were meant for Robert’s grieving family, he also spoke to me.

Loving God, thank you also for leading me to Robert’s funeral. Since I took so much from their special moment, please bless Robert and his family doubly today.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved