Water, Water Everywhere!*

As of late, I’ve been taken with meteorological images. I’ve shared my experience with a perfect storm and the multifaceted clouds which so often surround us. Though we most often associate storms and clouds with troubling circumstances, both can also be the source of new life and joy. Though I hobbled a bit during and after my bout with that storm, the sunshine which followed penetrated my spirit with renewed energy. Clouds in the aftermath revealed unexpected blessings. The rain which has fallen since has helped as well by washing away lingering debris. That rain also softened the ground beneath my feet just enough to allow new seedlings to poke their way through. What a beautiful addition to the landscape around me! Yes, I’ve weathered that storm, I’ve found encouragement in the clouds and I’ve been renewed by the rain! What more can I ask for? It occurs to me that, as always, God has been quite generous. Since this is the case, I’ll answer my own question. There is nothing more for me to ask for. So it is that, today, I turn my eyes upward to ask, “Lord, what is it that you’re asking of me?”

My propensity not to allow God time enough to respond to my questions failed to come to fruition this time around. Apparently, God’s eagerness was greater than my own because I was immediately inspired. Thank you, Lord! That inspiration suggested that, though it comes to us in the midst of inclement weather, water is the most precious commodity Creation has to offer, with the exception of course, of those God has given us to love. With that, I turned to today’s scripture readings. There I found it: Water, water, everywhere!* Each passage invites us to dance in the rain and to embrace the waters of God’s presence in our lives. If my recent history is any indication, this is truly life-giving advice.

The reading from Exodus (17:3-7) chronicles Moses’ distress as he stood before the unruly Israelites. Though God had promised to lead them to “…a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey,” they’d found themselves dying of thirst. Rather than trusting God who had already delivered them from the bondage of Egypt, the people grumbled and threatened Moses. In fear and disgust, Moses begged God for help before the people took matters into their own hands. Fortunately, and in spite of their faithlessness, God provided the water they so desperately needed. Sadly, it took many more similar encounters to convince the people that God’s presence among them was far more plentiful than the water God had provided. In his letter to the Romans (5:1-2,5-8), Paul invited his readers to drink of the blessings which came with the death of Jesus. This one from Galilee had outstretched his arms for each one of them. In the blood and water that flowed from Jesus’ side on the cross, new life abounded. Indeed, through both his life among them and his death, Jesus offered the waters of new life. Through this water, God remained to forgive and to revive, that each one would thrive, if only they chose to drink in God’s presence.

If God’s intent to ensure that we flourish through the waters of eternal life isn’t yet clear, John’s gospel (4:5-42) certainly makes it so. John wrote of Jesus’ encounter with a woman from Samaria as he rested at Jacob’s well. Jesus surprised the woman when he asked her for a drink of water. At the time, the Jewish people avoided any association with Samaritans. Sharing a drink of water crossed lines better left undisturbed. Nonetheless, Jesus persisted in the exchange, offering the woman far more than a simple drink in return. Much to her surprise, Jesus promised the woman eternal life. Impossible as this seemed, the woman allowed Jesus to explain. This woman was so taken with Jesus’ openness and his absolute acceptance of her that she couldn’t walk away from him. It was at Jacob’s well which was replenished by rain from heaven above that Jesus extended a second chance to this woman. Had this been her sixth or twelfth or thirty-third chance, Jesus would have offered it as freely. Once again, God forgave and revived that another of God’s children might thrive, if only she chose to do so. That wise Samaritan woman did just that!

At one time or another, we all find ourselves in the midst of perfect storms, surrounded my clouds and far more rainfall than we care to deal with. It’s difficult not to give up when we’re deluged by these things. Still, God insists that the joy and the sorrow, the comedy and the tragedies which make up our lives are of great concern to this Loving Parent of ours. All the while, God waits patiently to quench our thirst, to forgive and to revive, if only we choose to accept God’s kindness. Though I may seem to be writing from my own choices to dance in the waters of God’s love for me, I find myself apologizing to God far more often than I care to admit for having done just the opposite. I worry and I tread water until I become more overwhelmed than ever. Sometimes, it is only when I’m far too thirsty and weary and desperate to go on that I turn to God. And, just as generously as God responded to the Israelites and the woman at the well, God revives me with a cupful of Divine Love. I am fully convinced that God waits with another cupful for me, just as God waits with another cup filled with Divine Love just for you!

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

*From Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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Stand By When It Rains

When the afflicted man called out, the Lord heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.

Psalm 34:7

I’m writing this reflection for Thanksgiving Eve a bit early as I have much Thanksgiving prepping to do.
On this particular day, it’s raining again. I decided that the time crunch wouldn’t keep me from some much-needed exercise, so I took a walk before sitting at my keyboard. I donned my hooded jacket and embarked upon my familiar trek through the neighborhood. As I walked, I enjoyed the blurry perspective which those persistent drops forced upon me. As I walked further, it occurred to me that the emotional rains which fall too often in our lives are not as enjoyable.

A teen I know and love is enduring some tough times. Though the storm brewing overhead is partially this young ones choice, those who care are doing their best to provide the right umbrella to keep this kid dry. In the mean time, I find myself discouraged. Just as I can’t do a thing about today’s rainy forecast, I feel at a loss in this young person’s case. What can I do to help?

As I consider the lifetime of storms I’ve endured, I must acknowledge that those who loved me through these things proved to be great blessings simply by being there. Perhaps I can be of help by doing the same.

Rain falls in all of our lives far too often. When it does, we do our best sometimes by simply standing by. When the time is right, we’ll know. It’s then that God will help us to determine which umbrella we can offer to keep our loved one dry.

Compassionate God, keep this teen and all concerned in your care. Give them the strength to face today and let them know that you are with them every step of the way.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Better Than The Weather?

This is the message you heard from the beginning:
we should love one another.

1 John 3:11

Though I enjoy the view from our study window, I’ve closed the blinds today. The sun was pouring in and raising the indoor temperature exponentially. Though I miss the lush greenery outdoors, I realize that this is a minor woe. As I write, our friends to the west suffer the ravages of wildfires which continue to destroy acre after acre and home after home. To the east, terrible storms flood and wash away entire communities in their path. Though our local television meteorologist offers encouragement with a promise that cooler temperatures will prevail here in a few days, she makes no promises regarding the misery of our faraway neighbors.

It occurs to me that our presence to one another can be just as promising as cooler temperatures and just as terrible as the fires and storms which wreak havoc upon so many. Flames and floods don’t discriminate as they destroy everything in their paths. Sometimes, we fail to open our eyes and to look closely at what or who stands on the path before us. The good news is that we usually have the time to think before we plow ahead. We can choose whether to change things for the better or for the worse for those we meet along the way.

I’ve opened the blinds again because the sun has set. As I take in the greenery beyond my window, I also take in God’s urging not to add to the damage nature has done. It’s up to me and each one of us to make things better for those we meet along the way.

Dear God, though the weather is out of my control, my attitudes and actions are my own. Help me to use them both with love and good will.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God’s Meticulous Care

In the beginning was the Word;
the Word was with God
and the word was God.

John 1:1

While in Israel, over the course of a few days, it rained sporadically. I shared earlier that our guide Yossi did a happy dance in response as Israel was in the midst of a drought. This didn’t dampen our spirits until we realized that flood waters pouring down from the mountains caused us to be rerouted on our way to Masada. WE had to visit Qumran instead. Though the views from Masada are breathtaking, I secretly joined Yossi in his happy dance. I was eventually relieved and happy to share with my tour-mates that our view of Qumran rivaled that of Masada.

The rocky mountainside of Qumran was the home of what are called the Dead Sea Scrolls. These truly ancient writings were discovered between my toddler and teen years. Their importance was immediately recognized. By the time I entered college, their discovery had revolutionized Old Testament studies.

The caves of Qumran were used for storage only. Several scrolls from Genesis, Deuteronomy and The Psalms, among others, filled numerous ancient jars which protected them from the elements for what seems like forever. As I looked from cave to cave, I wondered about those who’d written the scriptures and those who devoted themselves to meticulously copying them. A few days later when I viewed bits of these scrolls at the Israeli Museum, I understood what an amazing miracle it is to have any of them in our possession in the 21st Century!

Sometimes, I wonder about the Lord God who so meticulously tends to you and me. All the while, God works to preserve our goodness and to arm us against the elements which threaten during this life. Perhaps God has discovered something in each of us which will revolutionize our little corners of the world. God only knows!

Dear God, thank you for your ever-present faith in each of us!

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Choose That Umbrella With Care

When the afflicted man called out, the Lord heard,
and from all his distress God saved him.

Psalm 34:7

It’s raining again. I’ve decided to head out in spite of the downpour. I’ve donned my hooded jacket and embarked upon my familiar trek through the neighborhood. As I walk, I enjoy the blurry perspective which persistent drops force upon me. As I walk farther, it occurs to me that the emotional rains which fall too often in our lives are not enjoyable at all.

A friend is enduring some tough times. Though the storm brewing overhead is partially a personal choice, those who care are doing their best to provide the right umbrella to keep him dry. In the mean time, I find myself discouraged. Just as I can’t do a thing about today’s rainy forecast, I feel at a loss in this case. What can I do to help?

As I consider the lifetime of storms I’ve endured, I must acknowledge that those who loved me through these things proved to be great blessings simply by being there. Perhaps I can be of help by doing the same.

Rain falls in our lives far too often. When it does, we simply do our best by determining which umbrella will keep our loved one dry.

Compassionate God, keep my friend and all concerned in your care. Give them the peace to endure, knowing that you are with them every step of the way.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

So Generously Restored!

…he leads me beside still waters
and restores my soul.

Psalm 23:2-3

I ran from the moment I woke that morning. Before thinking about a little volunteer pitch which I’d deliver at Mass that evening, I forced myself to complete my morning exercises. Afterward, I did two loads of laundry while working on a few more of these daily reflections. Completing this little to-do list put me in the perfect frame of mind to ask others who are able to step up and occasionally help out with some fairly easy tasks at church.

After practicing my one-minute and fifteen-second speech, I noticed that the November rain had let up. Though the red line on my thermometer had not edged beyond forty-five that day, I couldn’t resist the oddly peaceful setting which lay beneath the cloudy sky. Though the beautiful fall colors which adorned my neighborhood were muted on that seemingly dismal day, the scene before me nudged me back to Psalm 23.

Though I had a bit more to do inside, I headed outdoors to walk. Every step of the way, God restored my soul. Even on that gray-hued day, God refreshed me.

Loving God, thank you for the many gifts with which you refresh us.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved