O… Original!

For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be and favored.

Psalm 128:2

O is for Original. After much reflection, I continue to have difficulty settling on today’s theme. I’m torn between “original” and “opus” because both words describe an extremely important aspect of who we are. You see, each one of us is an original. Even identical twins who are extremely difficult to tell apart physically are very different people in every other way. Still, I cannot dismiss the word “opus” because each of our lives is precisely that. You and I are unique and important works which God has contributed to our human family. Our part in all of this is to contribute our own unique and important work to the mix. Whether we compose or construct or cause things to happen, our opus is vital to the rest of humankind. Whether this work is a lifelong process, a singular effort at a particular moment in time or a combination of the two, our original opus will make an impact upon others in a way that no one else’s work can.

My first reaction to all of this is to feel the weight of the world upon me. Then, I consider my interactions with those I’ve met along the way. I realize that the grandeur or smallness of their actions means little to me. It is their presence and their delivery which changes everything. Each person’s original opus impacts me in some way. The same is true of my own work and yours!

God invites each of us to contribute to this world in some way. God’s hope is that we seize the opportunities before us and make the most of them as only we can. Hmmm… Opportunities… O is for the Opportunities which we embrace to complete our own Original Opus. How about that!

Loving God, be with us as we use our unique talents to love as you do.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Back To The Basics… ABC…

Rescue the poor when they cry out,
and the afflicted when they have no one to help them.

Psalm 72:12

In just twenty-three days, Summer 2019 will begin. I’ve promised myself that, before the first leaves of Fall 2019 hit the ground, I will have made progress on my book. I’ve been on page 93 of that book for more than a year. And, yes, I’ve promised myself that I’d get back to it several times before. This time, I’m determined to keep this promise.

So it is that I’m going to revisit a favorite series of reflections. Some time ago, I used the alphabet to count the many blessings with which we’re gifted. Each letter designated one of the amazing ways God has enriched us all. Regardless of the troubles which beset us, God gifts us with just what we need to face them. In my case, reviewing this amazing list of treasures will give me the time to get to that book! If you’ve read these before, fear not. The editor in me will update each and every one! While making my way from A to Z, I’ll continue to post my longer reflections every Sunday.

Today, I begin again with A…

A is for Abundance. Each one of us is a treasure-trove to ourselves and to one another. We’re filled with abundant gifts which no one possesses in the same configuration as we do. It’s up to us to appreciate our abundance and to share it generously with those we’ve been given to love. It’s also up to us to find and to acknowledge the abundance in others that they may do the same.

Loving God, help us all to respond to one another in our abundance and in our need.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Unappreciated Treasure

“When you lift me up,
then you will realize that I AM.”

From John 8:27

There is an adage which addresses our frequent failure to realize what we have until we lose it. At one time or another, we all experience this type of loss when it is too late. I remember how eagerly I awaited the start of high school, only to find that I missed the comfort of my junior high school friends when I got there. I was thrilled to change schools during my teaching career until the first day I walked into the teachers’ lounge and realized that I didn’t know a soul. Though our only dog drove me nuts most of the time, I missed Ernie terribly when he died.

Like the Pharisees who rejected Jesus, my list of lost and unappreciated treasures is far too long. Fortunately for me, one precious gift remains a constant in my life. I was born to parents of faith who relied on God in good times and in bad. My mom and dad shared their faith with me quite tangibly. As a result, my faith is a constant in my life, part and parcel of everything I do. When I lose something I should have appreciated more, I find great consolation in knowing that God will never do the same regarding me. Though I sometimes forsake God’s gifts, God will never ever forsake me.

Dear God, open my eyes to the treasures around me, especially to the people you have given me to love. Help me to appreciate these treasures and to share them and myself generously.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Encouraged!

Jesus told him, “Go home to your family and tell them what God has done for you!”
At that the man went out to proclaim throughout the Ten Cities what Jesus had done…

From Mark 5:19-20

While growing up, I had visions of grandeur regarding what I would do with my life. I wanted to solve the problems of the world. I wanted to end wars. I wanted to fight against prejudice and injustice. I wanted to end poverty. I wanted to work with special needs children. I wanted to teach. I wanted to become a nun. I wanted to become a nurse…

When things began to fall into place, the path before me became less cluttered. I learned to value the seemingly mundane callings which in reality make all of the difference in the world. A good person who deals fairly and kindly with those around her brings peace to our world. Generous couples who allow their love to spill over onto to those around them bring love to the world. Parents who nurture their children with their time and attention bring hope to this world. Caring for those we have been given to love is the most important work we can do.

The truth is that I still want to solve the problems of the world, to end wars and poverty and to fight against prejudice and injustice. This time around, I’m tackling each of these with one loving act at a time.

Dear God, when I wonder if I’m doing my loved ones or this world any good, you dispel my doubt with encouragement. Thank you!

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Uniquely Good and Holy

He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant
and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness.

Hebrews 5:2

When our sons, daughters-in-law and grandkids left the other day, I smiled. We’d shared a wonderful time and I couldn’t help feeling blessed by this family of mine. With that, I excused myself from cleaning and retired to my recliner. From that vantage point, I have a wonderful view of our backyard. Though tiny flecks of snow beckoned my attention, I turned in the opposite direction to feast my eyes. My husband had just updated our family picture wall with the kids’ newest photos. I couldn’t help reliving the day we’d shared as I looked from frame to frame. After acknowledging to our generous God that Mike and I truly are blessed, I left my comfy chair to visit another wall.

This second collection includes photos from Mike’s and my childhood. Many of those pictured have passed. They include our own parents and grandparents, several aunts and uncles and my brother and sister. Mike and I shared much of our lives with these loved ones. Though I know that they happily abide in another place, I missed their physical presence.

You know, though our sons look like brothers, each brings a unique presence to our family. Though I would be proud to call both of my daughters-in-law my own, each brings unique gifts to the mix as well. The gaggle of grandchildren who grace us do so as only they can. Every member of my family and a lifetime of friends have touched my life as no one else has or ever will. Each one, with foibles and imperfections intact, can never be replaced. They’ve added something to my life and to life on this earth which no one else will replicate or replace.

This New Year 2019, I pray that we all thrive in spite of our imperfections and that we generously share our gifts with everyone we meet along the way. I assure you, your presence is a gift and your contribution to the rest of us is worth the effort!

Thank you, dear God, for the good people who brighten our lives.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Gifts Everywhere!

Let rivers clap their hands,
the mountains shout with them for joy
before the Lord.”

Psalm 98 III:7-9

The four seasons captivate me, each one with its own variety of nature’s grandeur. Spring arrives with only the slightest hints of renewed life-in-the-making. Summer brings hope-fulfilled in lush green carpets of grass and blossoms of every color. Though fall’s sometimes gloomy days replace summer’s vibrancy too quickly, its own colors renew my fascination with the outdoors. Yet, in spite of all of this beauty, I find myself most taken in by the coldest season of the year. The other day, blustering winds hinted at winter’s impending arrival. I realized that winter will soon draw me in with its onslaught of snow and cold perhaps a bit sooner than I’d hoped. Still, I find nothing more beautiful than an ice-clad tree or an undisturbed expanse of hardened snow. Add the crunch of that snow under my feet and a chilling wind around me and I am in outdoor heaven!

Having written that, I see that the piles of leaves I raked this morning now flutter about in the wind. They crackle as they fly and I wonder if they’re actually laughing at my wasted effort. Mounds of snow will require similar and perhaps equally futile attention when they arrive in not too many weeks. Still, I look forward to winter.

You see, it is during winter that most living things lie dormant beneath the surface. To me, they symbolize the potential to be found in so many unexpected places and people. Recent gatherings with family and friends revealed gifts which too often lurk beneath the surface. Finding these treasures in those I’ve been given to love elicited pure joy. These wonderful encounters rekindled my hope, just as winter does. Though it may be hidden for a while, life is everywhere!

Creator God, help me to appreciate your gifts whatever the season.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved