Time Enough…

While listening to our favorite oldies station in the car, I was thrilled when The Byrds 1965 hit Turn! Turn! Turn! began to play. Some time ago, my friend who shares my nostalgic tendencies sent me a link to a YouTube video of this beloved song. Though I rarely click email links, I was thrilled to do so at the time. When my husband and I returned home after our errands, I searched for that link with hope for a replay. Happily, I found that treasure and then sat back to listen. I wasn’t disappointed. The Byrds had put the text from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 to music almost verbatim. When they released their potential hit, this American Folk Rock Band did so in an effort to promote world peace. Throughout the years since, I’ve listened intently to both this melody and the original passage from Ecclesiastes which was often read at funerals I’d attended. Every time, whether spoken or sung, those amazingly simple words filled me with inexplicable peace.

For those not familiar with The Byrds’ rendition, every verse begins, “To everything, turn, turn, turn. There is a season, turn, turn, turn. And a time for every purpose under heaven.” If you read through the song’s lyrics or the scripture passage, you’ll find that there is a time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant, to reap, to kill, to heal, to laugh and to weep. There is also a time to build up and to take down, to dance and to mourn. According to both sources, there is a time for every purpose under heaven. The song and the scripture passage end with the assertion that there is also a time for peace. Insisting that this was the case even in the tumultuous 60s, the Byrds added, “I swear it’s not too late.” I admit to my own very strong inclination to insist the same. Even today, it’s not too late for peace among us here at home and around the world. This passage from Ecclesiastes isn’t among the scripture readings we’ll hear at Mass this weekend. Still, it seems to me that the Ordinary Time scripture readings from recent weeks and today indicate that Jesus was very much aware of the timing of the events of his life. Jesus was also very much aware of our need to infuse peace into each and every one of those events.

After much prayer and reflection, Jesus went to his cousin John to be baptized. It was time for Jesus to begin his public life. Not long afterward, Jesus attended the wedding in Cana with his friends. Very much aware of timing herself, Mary sought Jesus’ help when the couple involved ran out of wine. If she acted quickly, they would suffer no embarrassment over this turn of events. Jesus initially seemed unhappy with Mary’s timing. Still, on second thought, he abided by his mother’s wishes and provided the wine that was needed. At the same time, Jesus’ friends realized it was time to allow their belief in Jesus’ friendship to grow into belief in his ministry. In today’s gospel (Luke 4:21-30), Luke tells us that Jesus found himself in the midst of seemingly poor timing when he preached for the first time in his home town of Nazareth.

It was in the synagogue where he grew up that Jesus read this passage from the Prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, and to proclaim a year of the Lord’s favor.” When he finished, Jesus set aside the scroll and told the people that this saying had come to fruition before them. While his neighbors marveled at his knowledge of the scriptures, they also wondered why Jesus performed no good works among them. After all, those closest to Jesus certainly deserved a miracle or two. Apparently, Jesus felt that the timing wasn’t right or perhaps that his neighbors’ hearts weren’t ready. Rather than offering a miracle, Jesus responded with a lesson. Jesus insisted that ones proximity to a temple or preacher, priest or prophet, bible or scroll had little to do with ones relationship with God. It was the generosity of a person’s spirit which spoke volumes. When one reached beyond the peaceful confines of his or her own comfort zones and time zones to those in need, one demonstrated his or her proximity to God most clearly. Sadly, the timing wasn’t right for Jesus’ neighbors. They weren’t ready to recognize the peace to be found in aligning themselves with God’s timing and with God’s love. They didn’t understand that, whether the opportunity was a one-minute encounter with a homeless person or a lifelong relationship, it was always the right time to love as God loves. It was always the right time to find true peace.

I admit that I sometimes join Jesus’ neighbors in failing to take advantage of God’s timing and God’s peace. When I look back upon the happiest and the most trying episodes of my life, I realize that there truly is a time for every purpose under heaven. There is a time to be born and a time to die. Between those two events, God sees to it that there is also time enough to plant, to reap, to heal, to laugh and to weep, to build up and to take down, to dance, to mourn and to love. God sees to it that there is always time enough to transform our little corners of the world with peace by loving just as Jesus loved and as only we can.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Prioritize and Write! Right?

Hear, O Lord,the sound of my call;
hear, O Lord, and answer me.

Psalm 27:7

July proved to be a crazy month which ended with our family vacation. This adventure included our sons’ daughters-in-law and our four grandchildren. We had a wonderful time and, needless to say, my husband and I returned home exhausted, happily exhausted. Between loads of laundry, I peeked at our August calendar to confirm that this promises to be a far less frenetic month. After confirming that most dates are free of commitments, I noticed a word I’d written in large block letters at the top of this new calendar page: BOOK! With that, the free-time I’d anticipated for the month ahead seemed to have morphed into a writing frenzy.

I’ve alluded to my frustration over not completing my book multiple times. When I printed BOOK! next to AUGUST on my calendar, I made a mental note to make this the month I return to that manuscript. This time, however, I’ve also made a mental NOT to engage in a writing frenzy. In the past, I’ve spent every available minute at my keyboard. I kept phone calls brief and leisure reading became nonexistent. I exercised less and gave up solving an occasional Sudoku and daily crossword puzzles. Television became a non-entity as well. Though spending time with family and friends brings my greatest joy, I actually felt “bothered” by invitations to socialize.

My skewed priorities added nothing to the quality of my manuscript and the quality of my life. On this August 1, I’m happy to share that I will adhere to my new writing schedule which allows time for the other priorities in my life, especially the people I love.

Patient God, remind me often to make love my main priority.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

A Time For Everything

A childhood friend who shares my nostalgic tendencies recently sent me the link to a YouTube video. I rarely click email links, but I was thrilled to go to this one. It took me to a recording of Turn! Turn! Turn! which was recorded by The Byrds in 1965. When I clicked the “play” arrow and sat back to listen, I was not disappointed. The Byrds put the words from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 to music almost verbatim. At the time, this American Folk Rock Band performed the song to promote world peace. In my case, every time I listen, the musical score and those amazingly simple words fill me with inexplicable peace.

For those not familiar with the lyrics, every verse begins, “To everything, turn, turn, turn. There is a season, turn, turn, turn. And a time for every purpose under heaven.” If you look at the song lyrics or the scripture passage, you’ll find that there is a time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant, to reap, to kill, to heal, to laugh and to weep. There is also a time to build up and to take down, to dance and to mourn. According to Ecclesiastes and the Byrds, there is a time for every purpose under heaven. Both the song and the scripture passage end with the assertion that there is also a time for peace. Insisting that this was the case even in the tumultuous 60s, the Byrds added, “I swear it’s not too late.” Ecclesiastes is not among the scripture readings we’ll hear at Mass this weekend. Still, it seems to me that the Ordinary Time gospels from recent weeks and today indicate that Jesus is very much aware of the timing of the events of his life.

After much prayer and reflection, Jesus went to his cousin John to be baptized. It was time for Jesus to begin his public life. Jesus also attended the wedding in Cana with his friends. Very much aware of timing herself, Mary sought out Jesus’ help when the couple involved ran out of wine. If she acted quickly enough, they would suffer no embarrassment over this turn of events. Jesus initially seemed unhappy with Mary’s timing. Still, on second thought, he abided by his mother’s wishes and turned water into wine. At the same time, Jesus’ friends realized it was time to allow their belief in Jesus’ friendship to grow into belief in his ministry. In today’s gospel (Luke 4:21-30), Luke tells us that Jesus found himself in the midst of seemingly poor timing when he preached for the first time in his home town of Nazareth…

In the synagogue where he grew up, Jesus read this passage from the Prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, and to proclaim a year of the Lord’s favor.” Afterward, Jesus set aside the scroll and told the people that this saying had come to fruition before them. His neighbors marveled at his knowledge of the scriptures, but they also wondered why Jesus performed no good works among them. After all, those closest to Jesus certainly deserved a miracle or two. Apparently, Jesus felt the timing wasn’t right. Rather than offering a miracle, Jesus responded with a lesson. Jesus insisted that ones proximity to a temple or preacher, priest or prophet, bible or scroll has little to do with ones relationship with God. It is the generosity of a person’s spirit which speaks volumes. When we reach beyond the confines of our own comfort zones and our own time zones to those who need us most, we demonstrate our proximity to God quite clearly. Sadly, the timing wasn’t right for Jesus’ neighbors. They weren’t ready to recognize the joy to be found in aligning ourselves with God’s timing and with God’s love. They didn’t understand that, whether the opportunity is a one-minute encounter with a homeless person or a lifelong relationship, it is always the right time to love as God loves.

I’m ashamed to admit that I sometimes join Jesus’ neighbors in failing to take advantage of God’s timing. When I look back upon the happiest and the most trying episodes of my life, I realize that there truly is a time for every purpose under heaven. There is a time to be born and a time to die. In between those two events, God sees to it that there is also time enough to plant, to reap, to heal, to laugh and to weep, to build up and to take down, to dance, to mourn and to love. God sees to it that there is always time enough to transform our little corners of the world with love -just as Jesus did and as only we can.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Prioritize With Care

Hear, O Lord,the sound of my call;
hear, O Lord, and answer me.

Psalm 27:7

When my husband was freed of his post-surgical boot, he was free to drive once again. He also reclaimed the many tasks he manages in and around our home. As a result, I found myself with more free time and decided to return to a serious writing schedule. For several weeks, I spent every available minute at my keyboard. I kept phone calls brief. Leisure reading became nonexistent. I spent less time exercising and cut my walking time. I gave up solving occasional Sudoku and crossword puzzles. Television became a non-entity as well. Spending time with family and friends brings me great joy. After some days of intense writing, I realized that I actually felt “bothered” by invitations to socialize with anyone.

After reflecting upon my skewed priorities, I prayed aloud, “Dear God, what have I been thinking?” I took off that evening and retreated to our screened porch with my husband. When he sensed that I was relaxed enough to listen, he commented on my predicament. “You enjoy writing, but you don’t seem to be having much fun now. Why don’t you take your time and make writing fun again? I don’t want to tell you what to do, but…” I didn’t let the poor man finish because I knew he was absolutely right.

I’m happy to share that I’ve adjusted my writing schedule to allow plenty of time for the other priorities in my life, especially the people I love.

Loving God, thank you for hearing the desperation in my voice and for sending such a speedy response through my husband.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved