Plodding Along In Good Company

People will make their way
from every direction to God’s table.

Luke 13:29

I’m pleased that our sons draw from the best of our gene pool. My husband is of average height and I’m short. Our sons are six feet tall. They also have healthier lifestyles than my husband and I had at their ages. Though our older son gave up running after reaching his marathon goals, he continues an exercise regimen. Our younger son is a serious walker. Our daughters-in-law exercise at least as much as their husbands while urging our grandchildren into active lifestyles. When it comes to healthy eating, they’re all experts.

These observations inspired me to make a rare birthday gift request: some uncomplicated gadget to count my steps. The kids obliged and I’ve been walking more regularly ever since. I push myself to walk a bit more briskly and a bit farther. Once I establish my pace, I attend to the beauty around me. Regardless of the day, the sky keeps watch overhead while the trees stand firm along my path. The spraying fountain which I pass near our village hall sparkles as I pass. While I enjoy the sites, that little gadget tracks my progress.

I admit that I rather enjoy my now effortless attempts to walk every day. While I do my best to attend to my to-do list, that little gadget nudges me when I’ve been still a bit too long. When I finally recognized this transformation, I realized that God has been doing the same for me all of my life. While I do my best as I we plod along, God’s nudges me through a caring loved one, a bit of written inspiration, a beautiful day or a whispered reminder that I’m never ever alone. Trust me. God is doing the same for you.

Gracious God, thank you for helping us all along the way.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Beloved King

In an effort to organize my thoughts for this writing, I decided to ignore the mist in the air and to head outdoors for a much-needed walk. I reread today’s scripture passages and then bundled up for my trek into autumn. Much to my surprise, I found that the threat of rain had retreated and the clouds had separated just enough to allow an occasional glimpse of blue. I whispered a prayer of thanks for my good fortune and then set my pace for the duration. In an effort to clear my head, I set aside today’s topic and concentrated on the fleeting color around me. Recent winds, my dear husband and our diligent neighbors had removed most of the leaves along the way. The few which remained on the sidewalk made no sound as I walked over them. The morning’s drizzle had robbed them of their crackling crunch. Still, I gave thanks for their once-brilliant color which had so generously gifted us all.

As I walked, I noticed a few stubborn leaves clinging with all of their might to otherwise barren branches. As I continued on, I saw that several more determined leaves held tightly to the trees they called home. Each one seemed unwilling to give in to the inevitable. I imagined these leaves mustering their strength in the face of the cold wind and giving thanks for every additional second during which they remained in place. Those determined leaves had lived life to the full as best they could and they weren’t about to let go before they absolutely had to do so. Those leaves which clung so tightly to their branches weren’t in alone their efforts. I also discovered a smattering of their counterparts nuzzled close to the bases of bushes and fences. I congratulated them for a job well done. I also reminded them that their work on this earth isn’t finished. They will swirl and settle and swirl in the air again until the first heavy snow forces them into a final resting place. While they will eventually lose their leaf-like appearance to decay, they will also enrich the soil. That soil will nourish the trees which will produce another season’s leaves. These new leaves will repeat their brave predecessors’ purposeful ritual.

In spite of my effort to clear my head, those leafy encounters filled my head with a renewed understanding of today’s feast day. For this I was also most grateful. Today, we observe the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year which is The Feast of Christ the King. This timing is intentional. We’ve spent the year reading and listening to scripture passages which recount Jesus’ life and his teachings. Jesus used both his word and his example to teach God’s ways. Jesus preached love, mercy and forgiveness, joy in the face of poverty and peace in the face of suffering. Jesus worked very hard at convincing those he met along the way that God loves us just as we are with all of our human frailties intact. This is the reason Jesus publicly referenced God as his Abba, his Daddy, and the reason Jesus invited us to do the same. While Jesus provided a lifetime of good example, he assured us again and again that God expects only what we are able to do, nothing more and nothing less. Jesus spent his time with the seemingly unworthy, shunning the presumptuous ones who attempted to use his acquaintance to increase their stature. Jesus loved the poor in spirit and the materially poor and he always made time for them. In the end, Jesus hung on a tree with all of his might, determined not to let go until he had to let go. On this Feast of Christ the King, I imagine Jesus pondering the brave leaves who hold onto their trees as he once did. I imagine Jesus smiling because he knows that just as their work to enrich the soil continues season after season and year after year, his work continues in and through the lives of all of God’s children. Yes, through you and me.

As I considered the innumerable reasons I have to give thanks for Jesus’ impact upon my life, his presumed kingship never entered my mind. I researched the history of today’s feast because I wondered why we call attention to the one title which Jesus seemed least anxious to acquire. I discovered that in the grand scheme of church history this feast is relatively new. This observance was established in 1925 by Pope Pius XI. Pius served during extremely difficult times when communism and fascist governments threatened many. Pius hoped that this feast would draw attention away from those political bullies and toward Jesus who ruled with the authentic power of God’s love. When I consider Jesus’ kingship in this light, I find good reason to celebrate.

On this Feast of Christ the King, I rejoice in the many lessons I found among this year’s crop of leaves. Their brave journeys through spring’s budding, summer’s lush exuberance and fall’s decay opened my eyes once again to the wonder to be found in Jesus’ life. So it is that today I celebrate Jesus, our Jesus who clung to a tree to complete his life and to let go of it, just as you and I will do. Even more so, I celebrate the life Jesus lived before letting go of that tree, for it is that life which teaches me how to live and how to love as God asks.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Our Unique Journeys

And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the Kingdom of God.

Luke 13:29

I admit that I’m pleased that our sons draw the best from our gene pool. My husband is of average height and I’m short. Our sons are six feet tall. They also have far healthier lifestyles than we had at their ages. Though our older son gave up running after reaching his marathon goals, he continues a taxing exercise regimen. Our younger son was never a runner, but he’s a consistent and serious walker. I would be remiss if I didn’t add that our daughters-in-law engage in their own exercise routines while urging on their husbands and our grandchildren. When it comes to healthy eating, they’re all experts.

These observations and a few extra pounds nudged me outdoors. I pushed myself to walk a bit more briskly and a bit farther. Once I established my pace, I attended to the beauty around me. The sky boasted an amazingly deep blue and the trees sported vibrant greens. The spraying fountain near our village hall sparkled like an array of diamonds. “Thank you, for all of this!” I prayed.

Our younger family members and I embark upon very different journeys when we exercise. They attend to what their bodies tell them, while I turn to life outside of me. We do what we must to accomplish our goals and we all feel very good in the end.

All of our journeys through this life bring unique demands. God asks only that we tend to these things as best we can as only we can.

Gracious God, thank you for your unique call to each one of us. We will do our best to be a blessing to those we meet along the way.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Journey

And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the Kingdom of God.

Luke 13:29

I admit that I am pleased that our sons draw from the best of our gene pool. My husband is of average height and I’m short. Our sons are six feet tall. They also have far healthier lifestyles than my husband and I had at their ages. Though our older son gave up running after reaching his marathon goals, he continues to exercise regularly. Our younger son was never a runner. He exercises consistently via serious walking. I would be remiss if I didn’t add that my daughters-in-law engage in their own exercise regimens while urging on their husbands and our grandchildren. When it comes to healthy eating, they are all experts.

These observations pushed me outdoors for a trek of my own. I pushed myself to walk a bit more briskly and a bit farther. Once I established my pace, I attended to the beauty around me, my constant companion during these jaunts. The sky boasted an amazingly deep blue and the trees showed their most vibrant colors. The spraying fountain which I pass near our village hall sparkled like an array of diamonds. “Thank you, for all of this!” I prayed.

Our younger family members and I embark upon very different journeys when we exercise. While they attend to what their bodies tell them, I turn to life outside of me. We do what we must to accomplish our goals and we all feel very good in the end.

Our journeys through this life bring unique demands. God asks only that we tend to these things as we can as best we can as only we can. This is all that is required.

Gracious God, thank you for your unique call to each one of us. Make our efforts a blessing to all whom we meet along the way.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved