Share God’s Peace

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

Psalm 91:2

I’d abstained from attending to the news for a few days in an effort to give my emotions a rest. When I began to watch again, my heartache returned immediately. In the midst of a follow-up report on a protest-related shooting, I had to walk away. When I turned from the television, our wall of family photos caught my eye. Without thinking, I looked at our grandchildren’s pictures and said aloud, “I hope we can fix this before you grow up and I hope each of you sees to it that we’re never ever again in a mess like this.” My tears flowed freely as I acknowledged that the violence referenced in that news report has become far too commonplace these days…

I began working my way through Psalm 91 with yesterday’s reflection and I’ll continue to do so for a while longer. This particular Psalm celebrates God’s care for each one of us. In the midst of this world’s ongoing unrest, 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 unrest by sharing 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.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Plant Seeds of Love

Where there is hatred, let me sow love…
From The Prayer of St. Francis

I’ve shared this heartbreak before, but it bears repeating during these difficult days…

My now forty-something son was just seven years old. Something I asked him to do made my dear child angry enough to cry, “I hate you!” Because I rarely used this verb myself, I was moved to tears by his outburst. Rather than respond in the heat of the moment, I went out to our patio to consider what had occurred. When our dear neighbor shouted “Hello” over the fence, I burst into tears.

After I composed myself, I explained what had happened. Before she could respond, I asked my neighbor if her children, who were already adults then, ever said the equivalent when they were little. “Of course they did!” Ellie responded, “But only once. After they shouted their feelings about me, I drew them close and said,’Well I still love you!'” With that, I returned to my son and told him the same. By the way, he never repeated that infamous line either.

I share this today because I think we need to sow seeds of love for one another very early on. At the same time, I also believe that it’s never too late to begin. Though I still don’t know what drives us to do the terrible things we sometimes do to our fellow humans, I wonder what I can do to prevent more of the same. How unloved must we feel before we turn to hatred to address our concerns? More importantly, how do we love these feelings out of existence?

Today, I’m determined to sow love at every opportunity. Please, join me.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Just Talk…

“You may go; your son will live.”
The man believed and he went home.
John 4:50

It’s taken me a lifetime to imitate the man about whom John wrote the words above. I admit that I’ve succeeded only some of the time. This man was a royal official who was quite used to having his every need met without question. At the time, the man’s child lay dying. He had likely tapped every resource at his disposal to find a cure. Still, in spite of his position and power, the man looked to Jesus for help. When Jesus instructed him to go home because his son was recovering, the man believed Jesus and went home. That man was not disappointed.

I don’t know what compelled that royal official to turn to Jesus. I’m certain that he knew only a fraction of what we know about all Jesus taught about God’s love for us. Still, in the face of two thousand years of proof of God’s love in more than a billion lifetimes, I sometimes doubt. I don’t doubt God’s love. What I sometimes doubt is my ability to participate in God’s love by praying.

I wonder if my prayers for healing or peace or a positive turn of events for someone who has asked me to pray make a difference. Then, someone thanks me for praying for his sick wife who has recovered. Another thanks me for praying during his dad’s successful cancer surgery. A neighbor thanks me for praying for her grandchild who will experience birth in a few short weeks. As my prayers continue and this list of thanks grows, I’m assured that every conversation with God makes a difference after all.

The outcomes I hope for aren’t always forthcoming. Still, knowing that God is aware of our troubles and that God is with us through it all is amazingly comforting.

Compassionate God, talking with you is always worth the effort.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Look At The “God” Side

With me at your right hand,
you will not be shaken.

Psalm 16:8

My husband lifted his foot and rested it on the ottoman in front of him. “This really hurts. It’s a bad foot day,” he said. Then he quickly added, “But if this is the worst that happens today, I’m a lucky man.”

Our life together hasn’t been trauma free. Still, my husband and I try to look at the bright side of things when tragedy touches us. I was blessed with this mindset early on. My husband wasn’t. It took years of nurturing his own faith as best he could for him to develop his positive stance toward life’s negatives. Though this transformation occasionally reverts to a work in progress, I admire his persistence. Even in the midst of our pandemic woes, the dear man has continued to smile.

You know, God has encouraged us from the beginning to look at the bright side of things. From the very beginning, humankind failed to do this. Still, God persisted. God sent Abraham and Moses and the prophets and then Jesus of Nazareth to get our attention. Who but one from God could have conceived of the prodigal son’s forgiving father and the good shepherd who would lay down his life for even one of his sheep? Who but one from God could have lived love and compassion, mercy and forgiveness with such perfection? Yet, in spite of his goodness, tragedy touched Jesus’ life as well.

It seems to me that the moral of the story is this: Because we aren’t yet in heaven, this life will not be perfect. Still, God loves us and remains with us through it all. Hopefully, this is enough to get us all to look at the bright side of things.

Loving God, thank you for your ongoing presence which urges us on.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

R… Rejoice

This is the day the Lord has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.

Psalm 118:24

R is for Rejoice. Before I continue, I must share that I considered using “resignation” as my R word. It had come to my attention, once again, that life on this earth is imperfect at best. It seemed, once again, that the only way to deal with this reality is to accept that some things are what they are and to move on. Unfortunately, when I choose to move on, I do so reluctantly. Somehow, I’m convinced that the situation I’ve abandoned actually could be improved for the better.

This other day, when one such situation presented itself, I decided that I could not accept that it is what it is. Rather than adding more negativity to the mix, I decided to be a positive catalyst who might actually give all concerned a bit of hope. In the end, my effort paid off. Though I didn’t change much, I did help those concerned to adjust their attitudes regarding the mess which temporarily overwhelmed us. Turning our resignation into an opportunity to rejoice that things weren’t any worse helped. Perhaps the most important aspects of all of this were the decisions of those concerned to be positive. I “decided” not to add to the negativity and my friends “decided” to jump onto my bandwagon. Together, we infused joy into tough circumstances.

The Psalmist who offered the wonderful suggestion cited above asks us to be glad and to rejoice. This is a choice we can make anytime and anywhere. Today, I’m deciding to abandon my resignation about this less-than-perfect world. Today, I’m going to rejoice and be glad.

Dear God, thank you for giving us the capacity to rejoice and the free will to choose to do so. May our efforts transform the imperfections of this world into opportunities to reveal your goodness.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Find The Good… It’s There!

Seek good and not evil,
that you may live.

Amos 5:14

Remember when I mentioned cleaning off my desk the other day? I actually spent an hour dealing with my beloved clutter. That day, I found a small piece of paper with three words written on it. Those little gems inspired the reflection I wrote immediately afterward. Today, I’m going to share another bit of wisdom which my niece forwarded to me some years ago. It was written by a fellow church member. Just above the message, Cece had written, “I thought you’d like this one.” While rereading those precious paragraphs, I realized once again that Cece was correct in her assessment.

The reflection was actually a commitment on the part of the writer to find the best in everyone and everything she would encounter during the coming day. The writer began by listing all of the reasons for her certainty that she would, indeed, find goodness around her. She would expect no effort on the part of others. Rather, she would look for goodness, regardless of how well-disguised it might be. While acknowledging the trials and tribulations which might mute that goodness in others, she would look for their goodness just the same.

I know why I kept this reflection. It’s a poignant reminder of my need to look for the good around me as well. Negativity bombards us from every direction. I think it’s time for each of us to respond by bombarding the world with our best attempts to find goodness in those around us. Perhaps we can go on to one-up ourselves by infusing our own goodness and love into every moment we’re given.

Dear God, give us eyes to see and hearts to appreciate the goodness in ourselves and in others.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved