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

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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