I Can Do Something…

“Teach them to carry out everything…
and know that I am with you always…”

From Matthew 28:20

While going through boxes of mementos, I found a tiny plate just 5 inches in diameter. This antiquated bit of porcelain features a sketch of President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy. Though it isn’t fine artwork, it elicited a smile. I quickly recalled the enthusiasm of the early 1960s. Though I was only 9 years old and I didn’t know much about him, I cheered when JFK was elected. When Mr. Kennedy offered his inaugural speech, I learned something about his hope for the future. Our new president told us, “…ask not what your country can do for you-ask what you can do for your country.” I wondered what I could do.

Though in elementary school during JFK’s presidency, I clearly recall Khrushchev’s rants and our fear of communism. I remember the worry surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis and our relief over its resolution. Though we fretted and prayed about such things, I felt safe. Then, on November 22, 1963, everything changed. 1036 days into his term, President Kennedy was killed by an assassin.

I think the eve of this sorrowful anniversary offers the perfect opportunity to respond to President Kennedy’s request. Regardless of our religious and political affiliations, we all have good reason to do something because our collective future truly depends on it. So it is that, today, I’m going to stop wondering what I can do. Today, I’m going to do my part to make this country one nation again.

Dear God, you know our imperfections better than we know them ourselves. Still, you place your trust in us to care for this nation, for this world and for one another. Be with us as we do something which illustrates that your trust is well-placed.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

It’s Up To Us

“We find ourselves in the peaceful possession
of the fairest portion of the earth…”
.
Abraham Lincoln, January 1838, Springfield, Illinois

Though I normally begin with scripture, I find Abraham Lincoln’s words to be particularly poignant as Election 2020 unfolds. This country has been “the fairest portion of the earth” for us Americans since our birth as a nation…

I’m writing early Election Day with no idea of who will be elected when the votes are tallied. I admit to an unsettled state of mind. I grew up in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, the War On Poverty and the Vietnam War. I witnessed the anguish of fellow citizens persecuted because of their color, their status as veterans and their status as protestors. I remember too many poor neighbors for whom things never seemed to change. I remember the day Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. I remember demonstrations during the 1968 convention in Chicago and at Kent State where protesting students were shot. I remember many events which I never expected to be repeated, yet have been echoed in recent history.

After voicing his appreciation for these United States, Abraham Lincoln pointed out our responsibility to safeguard this gift: “…This task of gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in general, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform… How then shall we perform it?… At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us… it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher…”

It was 182 years ago when Lincoln warned us against abusing the gift of this democracy. It occurs to me that it’s time to take Lincoln’s words to heart. It’s time to set aside political differences and to work together to return this nation to “the fairest portion of the earth” which Lincoln so loved. So great are we, Lincoln thought, that our demise could come only at our own hands. We mustn’t cause that to happen. So, regardless of whom you and I voted for and regardless of who wins or has won this election, let’s repair our relationships with one another from our tiniest citizen to the president and everyone we meet in between. Let’s return to the goodness which Abraham Lincoln envisioned.

Dear God, please stay with us as we strengthen our relationships with one another and with this precious country of ours.

©2020 Mary Penich-All Rights Reserved

What Can I Do? Something…

“Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you.
And know that I am with you always…”

Matthew 28:20

While purging a kitchen drawer, I found a tiny plate which can’t be more than 5 inches in diameter. This antiquated memento features a sketch of President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy. Though this chipped bit of porcelain isn’t fine artwork, it elicited a smile. I quickly recalled the enthusiasm surrounding his candidacy. I followed the news to learn more about him and I cheered when he was elected. When Mr. Kennedy offered his inaugural speech, I learned about this man’s hope for the future. Our new president told us, “…ask not what your country can do for you-ask what you can do for your country.” At the time, I wondered. What could I do?

Though I was only in elementary school during this presidency, I recall Khrushchev’s rants and our fear of communism. I recall the worry surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis and the relief over its resolution. Though we fretted and prayed about such things, I felt safe. It was November 22, 1963, when everything changed. 1036 days into his term, President Kennedy was killed by an assassin.

On this difficult anniversary, regardless of our religious and political affiliations, I think we all have good reason to respond to Mr. Kennedy’s request. Today, I’m going to stop wondering. Today, I’m going to do something to make my little corner of this country a better place.

Patient and merciful God, you place your trust in us to care for this world and for one another. Today, inspire us all to do something to ensure that your trust is well-placed.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Independence Day

My dream is of a place and a time where
America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth.

Abraham Lincoln

Though I normally cite a scripture passage to set the tone for these reflections, I couldn’t resist the quote above. While searching my desktop for something else, I found this amazing bit of wisdom from my favorite president…

On July 4, 1776, our forefathers (and fore-mothers!) saw this neophyte of a nation as just that: The last best hope of earth. Our collective history from that day forward has been punctuated with the very best humanity has to offer. It has also been tarnished by less-than-honorable behavior which has managed to soil us all a bit. Still, we carry on as one imperfect people who celebrate our freedom with every choice we make.

On occasion, I’ve looked upward to ask, “What were you thinking, Dear God, when you gave us free will?” God’s only response is the sound of Divine Laughter echoing throughout the heavens. As unhelpful… No, as terrible as some of our choices have been, God knows that someone somewhere always manages to draw good out of each one. It seems to me that this phenomenon is particularly important these days when so many of our seemingly cemented opinions of things clash at every turn.

On this wonderful day in our nation’s history, I invite you to embrace a bit of independence. Free yourself from your anger and discontent and embrace the good things that are in place around you. At the same time, consider this: Is there something you can do today in your little corner of this nation which will take this country a step closer to her place as the last best hope of this earth? If we can remember that not one of us is all bad, we may just catch a glimpse of the good lying within those with whom we disagree most. When we find that good, let’s all make the most if it!

Dear Patient God, make us good stewards of our freedom and of your love.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Remember… Respond…

“Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you.
And know that I am with you always…”

Matthew 28:20

While searching an infrequently visited drawer, I found a tiny plate which can’t be more than 5 inches in diameter. This antiquated memento features a sketch of President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy. Though this chipped bit of porcelain isn’t fine artwork, it elicited a smile. I quickly recalled the enthusiasm of Catholics who marveled at the possibility of a Catholic president. Though I didn’t know much else about him, I cheered when he was elected. When Mr. Kennedy offered his inaugural speech, I learned something about this man and his hope for the future. Our new president told us, “…ask not what your country can do for you-ask what you can do for your country.” At the time, I wondered what I could do.

Though I was only in elementary school during this presidency, I recall Khrushchev’s rants and our fear of communism. I recall the worry surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis and the relief over its resolution. Though we fretted and prayed about such things, I felt safe. Then, On November 22, 1963, everything changed. 1036 days into his term, President Kennedy was killed by an assassin.

On this ominous anniversary, regardless of our religious and political affiliations, I think we all have good reason to respond to Mr. Kennedy’s request. Today, I’m going to stop wondering what I can do and I’m going to do something.

Patient and merciful God, you know our imperfections better than we know them ourselves. Still, you place your trust in us to care for this world and for one another. Today, inspire us all to do something to ensure that your trust is well-placed.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved