Last weekend, my tired husband and I drove north for some much-needed rest. Oddly enough, as we packed the car, I realized that resting would be our least likely activity during this time away. In addition to his duffel bag of clothing, Mike filled the car with a flat of marigolds, his drill and a new curtain rod. He felt certain he’d find the time between naps to beautify our little cabin both inside and outside. Because Mike would be busy with his to-do list, I brought along our laptop and my writing resources with the hope of getting a head start on this reflection. Since inspiration normally flows freely when I’m in the midst of nature, I assumed that I’d be finished in no time. This is the reason I also brought our Israel trip photos and two empty albums. Since my husband’s projects often take him longer than he expects, I knew I’d get to those albums. “It’s about time!” I told myself.
As it happened, the weather in Wisconsin was perfect. We walked our entire neighborhood while listening to chirping birds and enjoying the scents of springtime which filled the air. We enjoyed breakfast and lunch at the cabin and then joined the locals at our favorite eateries for dinner each night. We tackled our self-assigned chores between excursions to Oxford, Portage and Montello. It was the morning of our last full day away when I realized that I hadn’t given thought to filling this space. While Mike planted his marigolds, I reread today’s scripture passages and sat at the laptop to work. Much to my dismay, Mike finished planting, sprayed our driveway for weeds and cleaned our screened porch while I edited and re-edited the same miserable paragraph. I finally acknowledged that inspiration had escaped me. Rather than struggling further, I turned to that stack of neglected photos and began to fill the first album.
When Mike came inside a while later and saw me elbow-deep in photos, he congratulated me for finishing my writing. I didn’t correct my dear husband because I’d completely forgotten my failed attempt to fill this page. I’d returned to Israel and that was all that mattered at the moment. Every photo carried me back to that place which had become my home away from home. Every photo brought a measure of the tangible peace which I’d encountered there. I credit our wonderful guide for this. Each time Yossi revealed one of Israel’s treasures, it was as though he was introducing a dear friend. Yossi’s eyes brightened and his emotion peaked as he described the venue or artifact or landscape before us. Though most of what I encountered in Israel amazed me, it was Yossi’s ongoing commentary which gave meaning to what I saw and which touched me most deeply. This alleged secular Israeli had revealed the Holy Land’s gifts with clarity, passion and absolute love for their Source.
After thoroughly enjoying that return visit to Israel which our photographs afforded me, I offered a prayer of thanks for the peace I’d found there. Though I’d struggled with the miracle of that first Pentecost a few hours earlier, suddenly everything had become clear. I returned to our laptop and read the scripture passages once again. Of course, Yossi-the-Guide came to mind. I wouldn’t have appreciated all that I’d encountered in Israel if Yossi hadn’t pointed out and explained what I saw. Yossi enriched my understanding of the things which were already a part of me while also inspiring me with new knowledge regarding much more. I admit to turning my eyes upward to prayerfully acknowledge the obvious regarding today’s feast. You know, the disciples received equally diligent guidance along the way. Jesus didn’t leave them to wander aimlessly through the uncharted territory which lay ahead. After he’d taught them well through his words and his example, he did more. To ensure that the best was made of his lessons, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to guide the disciples as they continued his work. Fortunately for us all, Peter and the rest took the Spirit’s guidance to heart. They did this with such passion that those around them couldn’t help listening. Those who took the disciple’s message to heart responded in kind by generously sharing this guidance with one another.
On this Pentecost Sunday, I celebrate the precious gift of God’s presence in our lives. God has put heart and soul into guiding humankind since the beginning of time. This effort continued through Jesus just as it continues within each one of us today. If I had ignored Yossi’s wisdom, I would have missed the Holy Land’s treasures. If I had ignored the stack of photos I toted to Wisconsin, I wouldn’t have rediscovered the peace I’d found there. If I’d ignored the guidance God infused into that photo opportunity, this page would be blank today. God’s guidance is always ours. We need only to open our hearts to find it.
©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved