Time To Dance?

A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

Ecclesiastes 3:4

My husband and I planned to attend three weddings this summer. At the moment, the two earlier weddings have been cancelled while the third dangles in uncertainty on our calendar. We looked forward to celebrating with each couple. I would have found it encouraging and, yes, a bit romantic, to wish these hopeful spouses all of the best for their futures together.

I admit that I also looked forward to dancing at their receptions. I usually begin with a slow dance in my husband’s arms. Afterward, he retreats to join anyone else who isn’t dancing while I continue on with a friend or family member whose spouse has also retreated from the dance floor. In the end, the dancer within me takes over for as long as I can move. Though she sometimes has a difficult time guiding my feet into the prescribed steps for a given dance, she always succeeds in freeing me to abandon my inhibitions and to rejoice in the music at hand.

Needless to say, there will be no such dancing for us in the foreseeable future. Still, the words I cited above from Ecclesiastes nudge me to try. I truly believe that God intentionally created us with the ability to party. This is one of God’s most creative ways of reminding us to take the time to relax and not to take ourselves or this life too seriously. Like you, I know we’re immersed in one of the most serious times of our lives. Still…

…Our grandchildren amuse us with three-way FaceTime calls. Friends resend emails and Facebook posts which force us to laugh aloud. We walk outdoors and shout cheerful greetings to those we see while social distancing at twice the prescribed footage. We telephone those we love, but cannot see and we pray for everyone. Yes, we are in this together and we are called to turn our mourning into dancing whenever we can!

Gracious God, thank you for our ability to transform our tears into laughter and our mourning into at least an attempt to dance.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Be Hospitable

“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd.
By now they have been with me for three days
and have nothing to eat.”

Mark 8:2

When I glanced at the calendar this morning, I saw that Thanksgiving is just two days away. Thanksgiving is also the feast of St. Cecilia. This is my sister’s feast day. Since she passed away six years ago, these little reminders of her always give me reason to celebrate her. This is a great way to spend these pre-Thanksgiving days.

Cecele is a lot like our mom who was a hospitable woman. She opened her door to whoever knocked, offering a chair, a cup of coffee and whatever else she had to her guest. Though our kitchen table was already crowded, my mom extended her welcome to our friends who occasionally stayed for dinner. After our mom passed away, Cecele led the effort in scheduling our family gatherings. She also elicited just enough guilt from the rest of us to ensure good attendance every time.

Today, our mom’s and Cecele’s welcoming ways live on in the rest of us. We continue to take turns hosting our family gatherings where food and laughter are plentiful. Though our attendance isn’t as complete as it used to be, we still enjoy good times in good company. I’ll remember to thank God for this as I prepare to partake of Thanksgiving Dinner!

Dear God, you bless us with our families. Help us to show our gratitude by extending our hospitality beyond our homes to those who need us most.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Choose Wisely

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part
and it will not be taken from her.”

Luke 10:41

I recently participated in a flurry of emails regarding an upcoming family gathering. In this busy technological era, my extended family has resorted to email to narrow down potential gathering dates by assessing who can come when. One of my nephews even proposed an online app to facilitate our efforts. Happily, a date has been chosen which will result in optimum attendance.

Large family gatherings are among my most precious childhood memories. Though I dreaded the preparations involved, I loved our family parties. I usually crept away from the children and eased myself into the periphery of the adult conversations. I listened to recent news and familiar stories with equal interest. I continue to savor remnants of these wonderful exchanges. My mom often observed that I didn’t miss a thing! The truth is that if I hadn’t busied myself with listening so carefully to the adults around me, I would have missed a great deal!

Something similar occurred during one of Jesus’ visits to the home of Martha and Mary. Martha scurried about to prepare a meal for Jesus and his friends, while Mary seated herself at Jesus’ feet. When Martha complained about Mary’s disinterest in helping her, Jesus offered her little sympathy. Though Jesus appreciated Martha’s concern, he appreciated Mary’s company far more.

The truth is that being present to those we love is the most important task at hand.

Loving God, you have blessed us with both a work ethic and the capacity to love. Help us to use both wisely.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Choose The Better Part

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part
and it will not be taken from her.”

Luke 10:41

My most precious childhood memories include large family gatherings. Though I dreaded the preparations, I loved these parties. I usually crept away from the other children and eased myself into the periphery of the adults. I listened to recent news and familiar stories with equal interest. I continue to savor remnants of these wonderful exchanges. As my mother often observed, I didn’t miss a thing! Still, I would have missed it all if I had busied myself with “things” rather than enjoying these wonderful people.

A few years into my marriage, I lost the art of enjoying such gatherings. While my husband engaged our guests, I busied myself in the kitchen preparing, serving and cleaning up afterward. When my poor husband tried to head off to bed, I kept him up with questions regarding the family or friends who’d just left.

Jesus addressed a similar dilemma when he visited the home of Martha and Mary. Martha scurried about to prepare a meal for Jesus and his friends, while Mary seated herself at Jesus’ feet. When Martha complained about Mary’s disinterest in helping her, Jesus offered her little sympathy. Though Jesus appreciated Martha’s concern, he appreciated Mary’s company far more.

I eventually learned Martha’s lesson by letting the dishes go and being present to those I was given to love.

Loving God, you have blessed us with both a work ethic and the capacity to love. Help us to keep these gifts in balance by choosing love over our to-do lists every time.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Dance Like You Mean It!

A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

Ecclesiastes 3:4

This summer, my husband and I will attend three weddings. Two of these involve the offspring of dear friends. As a result, both promise ample opportunities to reconnect with special people from near and far. Both will include numerous well-wishers who have good reason to make merry.

Though my husband is never anxious to dance for any reason, I consider every wedding invitation to be an invitation to dance the night away. This ritual usually begins with a slow dance or two in my husband’s arms. Afterward, he retreats to join anyone who is not dancing while I continue the fancy footwork with whoever else needs a partner. This “whoever else” is usually a friend or relative whose spouse has also “retreated”. In the end, I spend an hour or more allowing the dancer within me to take over. Though she has a difficult time guiding my feet into the “right” steps, she always succeeds in freeing me to abandon my inhibitions and to rejoice in the music at hand.

It occurs to me that God intentionally created us with the ability to “party”. This is one of God’s most creative ways of reminding us to take the time to relax and not to take ourselves too seriously. There is no more effective way to do this than to dance with abandon… and so I will!

Gracious God, thank you for caring for all of us: Our hearts, our bodies, our souls and our need to enjoy this life.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Open The Door

“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd.
By now they have been with me for three days
and have nothing to eat.”

Mark 8:2

When I glanced at the calendar this morning, I panicked a bit. Thanksgiving is a few days away. Next week includes my husband’s and son’s birthdays as well. Before I could begin wringing my hands, I looked at the date once again. Tomorrow is the feast of St. Cecilia, I recalled. This is my sister’s feast day. Since she passed away three years ago, these little reminders of her always give me reason to celebrate her. In the midst of my pre-Thanksgiving worry, these memories cheer me up.

Cecele is a lot like our mom who was a hospitable woman. She opened her door to whoever knocked, offering a chair, a cup of coffee and whatever else she had to her guest. Though our kitchen table was already crowded, my mom extended her welcome to our friends who stayed for dinner occasionally. After our mom passed away, Cecele led the effort in scheduling our family gatherings. She also elicited just enough guilt from the rest of us to ensure good attendance every time.

Today, our mom’s and Cecele’s welcoming ways live on in the rest of us. We continue to take turns hosting our family gatherings where food and laughter are plentiful. Though our attendance isn’t as complete as it used to be, we still enjoy good times in good company.

Dear God, you bless us with our families. Help us to show our gratitude by extending our hospitality beyond our homes to those who need us most.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved