Step In…

I will hear what God proclaims;
for God proclaims peace.

Psalm 85:9

Recent accounts from brave souls who’ve stepped in to assist someone in danger renew my faith in us humans. My typical response to trauma is precise calm. I do what needs to be done in the moment at hand and then collapse afterward. It’s afterward that I realize just how devastating the given circumstances might have been. It’s afterward that I’m also grateful that I did something to help.

This is the result of my mother’s example. She responded to violence around her without concern for herself. Her priority was to keep her fellow humans from being hurt. She yelled at a man who bothered a woman on a bus. He ran off at the next stop. She chased the assailant who mugged my aunt in our hallway. He fled before doing irreparable harm. Though I haven’t been faced with such traumatic scenarios, my mom’s lessons compel me to respond to others who are in danger just the same.

I don’t think my mom was any braver than the rest of us. I certainly am not. I do think that she had great faith in doing the right thing and in God’s promise to be with us in our efforts. Though my mom’s interventions were not necessarily peaceful -or wise- as they unfolded, they brought unmistakable peace to those she assisted. It seems that being a herald of God’s peace sometimes takes us to uncomfortable places.

Dear God, none of us can change this world on our own, but each of us can do something to improve the turf on which we walk. Give us the wisdom to know what to do and the courage to do it.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Advertisements

Watchful and Trusting!

Was not the hand of the Lord upon that child?
From Luke 1:66

When I arrived home after a bit of Christmas shopping, I paused in the driveway to take in our Christmas decorations. Though we’ll never win a decorating contest, my husband and I do our best to acknowledge the season through our outdoor display. Five years ago, Mike stopped climbing onto the roof above the garage to string lights on our second floor eaves. We both agreed that it was more important for him to make in to Christmas Day unscathed. Lighting the first floor eaves is enough. One year later, I slipped on the ice at ground level while stringing lights on a tree which was shorter than I am. This resulted in a laceration to my scalp and twelve staples to close it.

As I drove into the garage, I shuddered at this memory. The truth is that my fall had caused me to feel uncharacteristically vulnerable. At the time, I wondered if I’d reached the age when this type of thing might occur more frequently. The possibility unnerved me as I plan to be a capable and independent Mom and Grandma for many more years.

As I retrieved my packages from the car, I did what I always do when I’m concerned. I turned my eyes upward, not to share my worry, but to express my gratitude. I thanked God that nothing particularly threatening has happened in recent history. Mike has stayed off of the roof and I’ve watched more carefully for ice patches and many other of this life’s obstacles.

Dearest God, thank you for giving us the wisdom to learn something new and helpful every day even from our falls!

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Faithful Guardian

A surging stream of fire
flowed out from where God sat;
Thousands upon thousands were ministering to God,
and myriads upon myriads attended to God.

Daniel 7:10

Daniel’s imagery provides a fairly accurate picture of my earliest impressions of God. The adults around me did a very good job of convincing me of God’s love. Still, there was something about the Almighty’s powerful presence which gave me reason to pause. The earliest days of my relationship with God included some shyness and perhaps a bit of fear when it came to my own behavior and the things I dared and dared not to pray for.

The good news is that Daniel’s imagery also inspired my faith in God’s helpers, the archangels in particular. From the time I was a little child, I turned to Michael the Archangel when fearful people or fearful circumstances threatened. Though I was unsure of how all of this worked back then, I do recall finding great consolation under the Archangel’s watchful eye.

Though I have set aside the more cumbersome baggage from my childhood which stunted my growth faith-wise, I admit that I continue to turn to the Good Michael and his friends Raphael and Gabriel when those I love are in danger or ill or in need of guidance. Though I don’t expect any one of them to draw a sword to take down their adversaries, I do believe that these angels remain with them for the duration. Perhaps all that is required to make things right is a strong shoulder to lean on, even when we don’t realize that shoulder is there.

Loving God, thank you for all of those who guard us and guide us along the way. Most of all, thank you for being with us in everything.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

It’s Okay…

“Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet…”

Mark 6:11

Though I’ve written about this before, a recent encounter with a troubled friend urged me to do so again. It isn’t easy for me to walk away. This propensity to stay connected is partially genetic and partially learned. My parents opened their door to everyone. I recall my mom saying, “I leave the door open. If people choose not to come in, it’s their loss.” Jesus also welcomed everyone who crossed his path. Since I subscribe to Jesus’ way of life, I try to welcome others as Jesus did. This is the reason it’s difficult for me to advise anyone to do precisely the opposite.

Still, at times, walking away is ones only reasonable option. We all know people who aren’t good for us. They may not render physical harm, but they certainly take a psychological or spiritual or emotional toll on us. I find that if my gut offers a strong reaction to someone, I need to pay attention. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I should never speak to that person again. However, it may mean that I need to limit our contact. If this doesn’t remedy the situation, I may have to walk away after all.

I acknowledge that this is an odd topic for a reflection, especially when I have much to rejoice about in my life these days. I’ve included it because my troubled friend was convinced that part of “being good” is allowing ourselves to be hurt unnecessarily. Our loving God couldn’t disagree more.

Dear God, stay with us, help us to recognize potential harm and guide us away from its source.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Jump In!

I was hard pressed and was falling,
but the Lord helped me.
My strength and my courage is in the Lord…

Psalm 118:13-14

As I finished the dishes, I gazed out the window. I noticed a little bird perched at a hole in our bird house. My feathered friend peered through that hole several times, but didn’t enter. I wondered if he was debating whether or not to move in. This bird house is a welcomed replacement to our old one which the squirrels had transformed into a tenement. isn’t in the best of shape. They’d gnawed at some of the holes and made them large enough to poke in and takeover our alleged avian haven. That little bird seemed wise not to jump in until he was certain that the squirrels hadn’t once again demonstrated their handiwork.

I stepped away from the window to dry the dishes I’d washed. When I returned, I looked to see if that bird persisted in his indecision. To my amazement, he was sitting in the bird house peeking out. I watched for several minutes as his head disappeared and reappeared over and over again. Apparently, he’d found his new digs to be suitable after all.

Sometimes, I question new opportunities as well. I peek in to investigate, but my feet stay planted in place. I’m not as courageous as that little bird who took that leap of faith and found himself a new home. So it is that I look upward in my uncertainty. There I find our loving God who promises always to light my way.

Generous God, give me the courage to embrace the opportunity at hand. Help me to make the most of my digs here until I occupy my perfect home with you.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Always Safe

You shall not fear the terror of the night
nor the arrow that flies by day.

Psalm 91:5

My family will gather in a few days to continue our holiday festivities with a New Year’s Day celebration. For generations before I arrived, my dad’s Canadian family preserved this tradition which includes a blessing. Every New Year’s Day, our family gathers before our eldest family member to request their intercession. This year, my sister Rita will ask God’s gifts of happiness, health and prosperity for each one of us during the coming year.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve experienced a reassuring sense of peace as we kneel together for this annual prayer. Afterward, I feel oddly protected regardless of what life has in store for the next three hundred and sixty-four days. This was very important to me the year my dad passed away and for many years thereafter. Perhaps this is the reason I was always careful to help my own sons to feel safe. Perhaps this is the reason I hold my grandchildren so close these days. Perhaps this is the reason I’m compelled to remind all who will listen that God is always nearby, around us and within us, keeping us safe all the while.

Caring God, just as you lovingly remain with us, help us to treasure and nurture one another with equal devotion.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved