God’s Open Door

“Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs
under the table eat the family’s leavings.”

Mark 7:24

I grew up in an Irish and Italian neighborhood. Since only the tiniest drop of either bloodline flows through me, I had no preference for either group. The truth is that I envied them both, especially on St. Patrick’s and St. Joseph’s Days when my Irish and Italian friends celebrated their heritage with great flourish. For the most part, I am French Canadian and there was no designated day for me to do the same. Though my family celebrated rich traditions which are the direct result of my ethnicity, as a child, I longed for a more colorful and universal display. Later, new neighbors of African American dissent moved nearby and we became fast friends. Suddenly, I wasn’t alone in my envy of those whose ethnicity was celebrated.

This childhood disappointment evolved into a lifetime of effort to honor the plethora of ethnic differences which make our human family the treasure it is. That disappointment also fueled my effort to work around the numerous other differences which often separate us. Perhaps it was providential that I spent my career working with children. My classroom provided the perfect forum in which to honor both our personal uniqueness and our common qualities. Though I left my classroom behind long ago, I find that the lessons I learned there regarding God’s “Open Door Policy” are more important than ever these days.

Welcoming God, it seems that wherever we are we manage to separate ourselves into differing factions. Help me and all of my sisters and brothers to welcome one another into the moments of our lives just as you welcome us.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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All God’s Treasures

Each one speaks from his or her heart’s abundance.
From Luke 6:45

While helping our granddaughters to pack their suitcases after an overnight stay, I checked under their beds for stray socks and flip-flops. In the process, I discovered a storage bin which I’d hidden years earlier. I’d left it untouched because I thought it was filled with one of our sons’ memorabilia. After we drove the girls home, I returned to that bin to determine which of our sons I’d hand it over to during their next visit. When I pulled that bin from under the bed, I saw that the label on top read “Mary’s Childhood and Teens”… What a surprise!

There I found my high school yearbook with handwritten messages from friends and teachers. Familiar faces filled my memory. The message written near Sister Imelda’s picture took me back to freshman year religion class. Sister had observed that we can get a good picture of ourselves by looking at our friends. I took this to mean that our friends mirror who we are. When I taught, I often noted that the “good” kids gravitated toward one another, while their less cooperative peers did the same. Still, good kids were sometimes conned by the allure of unsavory acquaintances. At the same time, placing a troubled child in good company resulted in unexpected liaisons that widened the horizons of all concerned. These amazing friendships changed everything for the children involved. Perhaps I missed the meaning of Sister Imelda’s observation. It isn’t that our friends mirror us, but that their company is witness to our openness to one another regardless of our similarities and differences.

As I considered the variety of friends and teachers who filled my yearbook with their kind words, I saw that our openness to one another is key to a rich life. What a treasure God has made of each of us!

Dear God, help us to appreciate one another more fully.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God’s Unique Family

Each man speaks from his heart’s abundance.
From Luke 6:45

While helping our granddaughters pack their suitcases after an overnight stay at our house, I checked under the beds for stray socks and flip-flops. In the process, I discovered a storage bin which I’d stowed years earlier. I’d left it untouched because I thought it held my son’s memorabilia. When I looked more closely, I saw that the label on top read “Mary’s Childhood and Teens”. A few days later, I returned to that container and the forgotten treasures inside…

When I opened my high school yearbook, I discovered handwritten messages from friends and teachers. Familiar faces filled my memory. The message written near Sister Imelda’s picture took me back to freshman year religion class. Sister Imelda had observed that we can get a good picture of ourselves by looking at our friends. I took this to mean that our friends mirror who we are. When I taught, I often noted that the “good” kids gravitated toward one another, while their less cooperative peers did the same. Still, good kids were sometimes conned by the allure of unsavory acquaintances. At the same time, placing a troubled child in good company resulted in unexpected liaisons that widened the horizons of all concerned. These amazing friendships changed everything for the children involved. Perhaps I missed the meaning of Sister Imelda’s observation. It isn’t that our friends mirror us, but that their company is witness to our openness to one another regardless of our similarities and differences.

As I consider my very unique granddaughters and the variety of friends and teachers who fill my yearbook, I see that our openness to others is key to a rich life. We have so much to learn from one another!

Dear God, thank you for giving us such a unique family.

Be Open

Each man speaks from his heart’s abundance.
From Luke 6:45

While helping our granddaughters pack their suitcases after an overnight stay at our house, I checked under the bed for stray socks and flip-flops. In the process, I discovered a storage bin which I’d stored there years earlier. I had left it untouched because I thought it was filled with my son’s memorabilia. When I looked more closely, I saw that the label on top read “Mary’s Childhood and Teens”. A few days later, I returned to that container and the forgotten treasures inside…

I opened my high school yearbook and discovered handwritten messages from friends and teachers. Familiar faces filled my memory. The message written near Sister Imelda’s picture took me back to freshman year religion class. Sister Imelda had observed that we can get a good picture of ourselves by looking at our friends. I took this to mean that our friends mirror who we are. When I taught, I often noted that the “good” kids gravitated toward one another, while their less cooperative peers did the same. Still, good kids were sometimes conned by the allure of unsavory acquaintances. At the same time, placing a troubled child in good company resulted in unexpected liaisons that widened the horizons of all concerned. These amazing friendships changed everything for the children involved. Perhaps I missed the meaning of Sister Imelda’s observation. It isn’t that our friends mirror us, but that their company is witness to our openness to one another regardless of our similarities and differences.

As I consider my very unique granddaughters and the variety of friends and teachers who fill my yearbook, I see that our openness to one another is key to a rich life. We have so much to learn from one another!

Dear God, thank you for giving us such a unique family.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved