Always At Home

May you be glad on the
same score and rejoice with me.

Philippians 2:18

The first leg of trip to Israel (pardon the pun) “flew” by without incident. Our layover provided another opportunity to get to know our fellow travelers. The security staff who oversaw our international boarding were kind and reassuring, perhaps in response to our cooperative adherence to the necessary protocol. In the midst of locating our seats and stowing our carry-on bag, I whispered a prayer of gratitude for the good people around me. After a quick meal, I nuzzled into my seat with another prayer, this time for a nap.

Sleep never came. Some excited passengers chatted the entire time. I wrote “excited” because their pitch and their comments indicated that they were especially happy about their impending return to their home in Tel Aviv. Because I knew what awaited our group there, I began to feel excited, too. Tired as I was, I pulled out our itinerary to scan the list of the special places we’d visit. Each one was now familiar to me. This trip would truly be a homecoming for me as well.

You and I experience homecomings more often that we are aware. We belong to families and neighborhoods, faith communities, social clubs, service organizations and sports teams. We have workplaces and favorite gathering places where we feel very much at home. As I consider them all, I see their common thread. Each one reminds me that I don’t live alone on this earth. Every place where I encounter my fellow humans gives me reason to feel at home. Over the coming days, the Holy Land would be home to me once again.

As I continue my journey through Lent, perhaps I can find ways to make those around me to feel at home as well, especially those who are lonely.

Loving God, thank you for our capacities to be at home with one another and with you.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Relax With God

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:41-42

It’s taken me a lifetime to appreciate our need to slow down and to relax a bit. I truly enjoy the natural beauty around me. Still, I sometimes use more energy listing the reasons that I cannot head outdoors than I would’ve spent by actually walking. In the end, I accomplish far less than I might have if I’d been energized by a trek outdoors.

As I contemplate autumn’s arrival, I realize that outdoor opportunities will soon be limited by increasingly cold temperatures. Though I truly enjoy winter’s beauty, I’ll enjoy it firsthand for only a few minutes at a time. I looked away from my keyboard for a moment to respond to the tree outside of my window. It seemed to be waving to me. As I watched, it occurred to me that I must listen to Jesus who told Martha that she worried too much. I must also imitate Mary who sat peacefully at Jesus’ feet. She drew in his every word and all of the affection that came with them.

Today, I’ll ask Mary to move over a bit so I can take my place at Jesus’s feet as well. It’s there that I’ll learn to stop worrying about the cold which may or may not come and I’ll enjoy the warmth of the moment at hand. I’m going to sign off now to go for a walk. I want to wave to that tree outside my window in person.

Generous God, as I set aside my worries, help me to assist others in doing the same. Open our hearts to your infinite love and peace.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

The Sea of Galilee

As he was walking along the Sea of Galilee he watched two brothers,
Simon now known as Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea.
They were fishermen.

From Matthew 4:18

On our second evening in Israel, we checked into a hotel which rests on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. This was the same place we had stayed the year before which assured me that I’d hear the waves if I listened carefully. Though I’ve heard the surf in the darkness many times, this was special. I was within earshot of what I considered to be Jesus’ lake.

The following day, I would sail that lake. I would see the images Jesus saw from every vantage point. Beyond the buildings which occupy some of the shoreline and hillsides, the views would be the same as they were in Jesus’ day. I allowed the sounds of Jesus’ lake to coax me to sleep that night. In my slumber, I imagined the surprise in those fishermen whom Jesus called to his side. I imagined the courage it took to leave their fishing business to follow this young teacher into uncharted waters. I imagined myself sneaking alongside them in the shadow, waiting for the right moment to profess my willingness to follow, too.

Today, I find myself in the right moment to profess my willingness to follow. This second day of Lent 2018, I will open my eyes to see what Jesus sees from every vantage point. I will also open my heart to respond to what I find as Jesus would.

Dear God, be with us as we do our best to follow Jesus, to see what he sees and to respond with love.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

All God’s Children

Never act our of rivalry or conceit;
rather let all parties think humbly of others
as superior to themselves, each of you looking to
others’ interests rather than to your own.

Philippians 2:3-4

The first leg of trip to Israel (pardon the pun) “flew” by without incident. Our layover provided another opportunity to get to know our fellow travelers a little better. The TSA staff who oversaw our international boarding were kind and reassuring perhaps in response to our cooperative adherence to the necessary protocol. In the midst of locating our seats and stowing our carry-on bag, I whispered a prayer of gratitude to the Almighty for the good people around me. After a quick meal, I nuzzled into my seat with another prayer, this time for sleep.

A few hours later, hushed movements roused me from my sleep. Several Hasidic Jewish families had joined us on this flight. It was around 4:00 AM when the men among them moved toward the back of the plane to gather. I learned later that they pray together at given intervals every day. I admit that my first reaction to this disruption was annoyance. The gentleman behind me woke me when he grabbed my seat-back to help himself up. The gentleman across from me unwittingly hit me several times with his prayer shawl while trying to position it over his shoulders. It was only when I realized that they were heading off to pray that my attitude softened. With that, I whispered another prayer, this time to ask forgiveness for my impatience with these fellows who were likely as sleepy as I was.

You and I are surrounded by God’s other children much of the time. We belong to families and neighborhoods, faith communities, social clubs, service organizations and sports teams. As I consider them all, I see their common thread. Each one reminds me that I live not only for myself, but also for many others. My middle-of-the-night prayerful friends do the same.

Loving God, help me to appreciate your other children as you do.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Rest… It’s okay!

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:41-42

It has taken me a lifetime to appreciate our very human need to slow down and to relax a bit. I truly enjoy the natural beauty around me. Still, I sometimes use more energy listing the reasons that I cannot head outdoors than I would have spent by actually walking. In the end, I accomplish far less than I might have if I had been energized by that trek in the first place.

As I contemplate autumn’s arrival, I realize that opportunities to walk outdoors will soon be limited to those days when I can tolerate the temperature. Though I truly enjoy winter’s beauty, I’ll enjoy it firsthand for only a few minutes at a time. I looked away from my keyboard for a moment to respond to the tree outside of my window which seemed to be waving to me. As I watched, it occurred to me that I must listen to the one who once told Martha that she worried far too much. Then, I must watch carefully as Mary sits peacefully at Jesus’ feet, drawing in his every word and all of the affection that comes with them.

Today, I must ask Mary to move over a bit so I can take my place at the Lord’s feet as well. It is there that I will learn to stop worrying about the cold which may or may not come my way and enjoy the warmth of the moment at hand. I’m going to sign off now and go for a walk. I want to wave to that tree outside my window in person.

Generous God, as I set aside my own worries, help me to assist others in doing the same. Open each of our hearts to your infinite love and peace.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved