Precious Gifts Abound

“Let the sea and what fills it resound,
the world and those who dwell in it;
Let rivers clap their hands,
the mountains shout with them for joy
before the Lord.”

Psalm 98, 1:7-8

A cold front transformed yesterday’s moderate temps into a taste of fall this morning. Though I enjoy the approach of each of the seasons, this sudden change took me by surprise. Then again, I’ve recently enjoyed a string of wonderful family gatherings with my niece who is in from California. Perhaps I fear that the change in temperature will somehow lessen the “Cece Effect” which is always a boost to her Chicago family. As I grab my jacket for a walk, I consider the miracle of Cece’s presence and in nature which I’ll pass along the way.

As fall progresses, life around me will give way to winter. Most of the living things I encounter will lie dormant beneath the surface until next spring. The potential they hold reminds me of the potential to be found in so many unexpected places and people. I realize that recent outings with family and friends revealed many amazing gifts which too often lurk beneath the surface. The transformations I find in nature are reminiscent of the new and forgotten gifts of those I’ve been given to love.

My morning walk and the encounters of the past few days have renewed my belief that new life is everywhere and in everyone I meet along the way. I need only to take the time to enjoy it.

Creator God, help me always to appreciate the gifts of nature and of those you have given me to love, whatever the season.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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God Delights Us

Great are the works of the Lord,
exquisite in all their delights.

Psalm 111:2

A few weeks ago, I admitted that I was as tired as my poor husband was that day. My admittedly self-imposed to-do list had overwhelmed me and I needed a break. So it was that I joined my husband in the family room to relax. It didn’t take long for us to be drawn in by the travel channel. We discovered a series of shows which featured Alaska. The week before, friends had shared that they’re planning a cruise to the 49th State. Ever since, I couldn’t help relishing flashbacks to the wonder we’d encountered there. Though cloudy weather had prevented us from viewing the Aurora Borealis, we encouraged our friends take every opportunity for a potential sighting. Much to my absolute joy, the program my husband and I watched that day featured the Aurora in all its glory.

Though I’m certain that these images didn’t do justice to God’s handiwork, they took our breath away. They gave my husband and me a most welcome distraction from our fatigue. Perhaps they’ve also given us reason to take the time to explore God’s other treasures as well.

Loving God, thank you for the beauty with which you surround us. Thank you also for these little interludes which nudge us to enjoy that beauty as often as we can!

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Blessed!

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
and forget not all his benefits.

Psalm 103:2

It was a dreary Monday. As my husband backed the car out of the garage, large drops of rain assaulted our windshield. “I thought it wasn’t going to rain any more,” I grumbled. “It’s not supposed to,” Mike added, “but it is.” When we arrived at our destination, the rain had stopped. I looked upward and whispered, “Thank you!” Much to my surprise, this errand took only ten minutes. When we returned to the outdoors, I discovered that the dark gray clouds above were keeping their rain to themselves. “Wow!” I said aloud. Once again, I looked up and whispered, “Thank you!”

Later, I decided to run another errand. I headed to the bank with change which our parish children had collected for the poor. The gray sky continued to offer no further precipitation as I carted in containers filled with change. All was well until the coin machine sputtered and then stopped. After twenty-minutes of cleaning and adjusting, the teller decided they’d need a service call. He redeemed my receipt for the change taken, I thanked him for his effort and headed to a second bank. Much to my surprise, the same thing happened. When the teller assured me that this coin machine simply needed servicing, I laughed aloud. When I explained what had happened earlier, the young man couldn’t resist chuckling with me. With that, I carried those heavy containers back to my car for another day. Once again, there was no rain and I repeated my thanks.

When I sat to begin this writing, gentle tapping drew my eyes to the window. Those gray clouds had given way and rain began to fall. How could I not thank God for this oddly satisfying morning?

Creator God, thank you for giving us hearts which recognize your blessings in all their forms.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

More On Time…

A time to be born and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot the plant.

Ecclesiastes 3:2

A time to be born… I enjoy walking outdoors because of Nature’s ongoing evolution. The entire world seems to engage in rebirth during springtime. This growth continues through summer when flowerbeds and gardens flourish. Leafy trees respond to September’s mix early on with subtle changes in color. October brings those changes to fruition only to give way to November winds. Leaves crunching beneath my feet remind me that winter is near. Even then, barren trees hold the promise of new life. Yes, it seems to me that there is always time to be born.

A time to die… Just as Nature engages in rebirth, it also engages in dying all the while. Something old continually gives way to something new. Seeds fall from trees and dance in the wind until they find rest on the ground below. Though no longer part of a living plant, they hold all of the potential they need for life anew. These seeds nestle into the ground with great hope in the things to come.

A time to plant and a time to uproot the plant… If those seeds are lucky, a watchful gardener will see that they are covered with enough soil to survive. If they sprout too closely to one another, that gardener will gently relocate them so each will have room to take root and to receive its share of sunlight and water.

A time to love… Fortunately for us all, God feels it is always time to tend to us, the most beloved of all God’s creatures.

Caring God, thank you for your always timely love.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Lessons In The Snow

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1:1

In spite of the cold, I treated myself to a stroll through the neighborhood. Snow piles on either side of the walk reached well above my knees. There would be no cutting corners this time around. The occasional blocked sidewalk caused me to detour into the street where the village snowplows left a clear path. It was there that I discovered the gray-stained snow that I would otherwise have missed. When I returned to the sidewalk, images of that gray snow remained with me. I found myself identifying with its lost luster. “You’re still snow,” I whispered reassuringly.

I smiled as I recalled reassuring voices from my past who made similar observations. The encouragement I felt was tangible. As I walked on, I sought out similarly afflicted bits of nature: A mighty birch bent low under heavy snow; the invisible pond near Village Hall which hid under a blanket of white; that row of proud arbor vitae reduced to a mass of tangled branches pointing everywhere but up. “Don’t worry,” I promised. “You’ll all be back to normal before spring.”

You know, when God created this earth, God also created a great source of hope for humankind. In the greatness and foibles of nature, God revealed the greatness and foibles which beset us all. When we take the time to learn from the gifts around us, we find great encouragement, amazing mercy and God’s awesome unconditional love. We also find the promise of another chance it become our best selves again.

Thank you, Creative God, for the gifts of Nature and for the lessons in life which we find among them.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Finding God

Since the creation of the world, invisible realities,
God’s eternal powers and divinity, have become visible
through the things God has made.

Romans 1:20

I’ve shared often that I love the outdoors. Though I’m not a mountain climber, boater, skier or even a seasoned hiker, I do enjoy brisk walks in any weather. It matters little if I’m exploring new territory or retracing steps I’ve taken for a dozen years. Whichever the case, I always manage to find something new to appreciate along the way. It seems to me that God intended these amazing discoveries when God orchestrated the creation of this world and the universe which surrounds us. Though I’d like to think that I’ve come to appreciate a bit about God throughout the decades, I admit that I’ve failed to scratch the surface of the Almighty.

With so much in nature to learn about God, imagine how much more we humans have to teach one another about our Maker! After all, of the things God has created, we humans are the ones who are made in God’s image. Perhaps I need to give a second and third and hundredth look toward my brother and sister humans. Perhaps it is in these amazing discoveries that I will finally scratch the surface and revel in a glance at God’s essence.

Creator God, help me to find you in all of the work of your hands, especially in the people with whom you have graced my path.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved