One By One…

She reaches out her hands to the poor,
and extends her arms to the needy.

Proverbs 31:20

I know I’ve shared my lofty childhood aspirations with you before… 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…

Eventually, things fell into place and 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. Where would we be today if our essential workers has chosen different paths? I realized that 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’ve been given to love is the most important work we can do.

Recent events have assured me that I still want to solve the problems of the world. This time, however, I’m tackling all of this 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!

©2021 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Wrapped In Peace

This, remember, is the message
you heard from the beginning:
Love one another.

1 John 3:11

I have a little headache and a bit of heartache. The realities of the New Year have revealed themselves in full force. I celebrated with many across this world when the clock struck 12:00 AM on New Year’s morning. I shared their relief over the close of Year 2020. I also whispered a prayer of gratitude for the many blessings that came in the midst of 2020’s challenges. Still, there is much to be done in our battle with the COVID-19 pandemic. There is much to be done to counter many of the disruptions to peace on earth and peace in my little corner of this world.

Apparently, the heavens have a headache, too. A storm is brewing just beyond my window. This is an odd phenomenon. Only rarely do we hear thunder before snow. If my minimal meteorological knowledge serves me, ice pellets, rather than snowflakes, will fall within the next few minutes. I wonder. Ice pellets sting, unlike snowflakes which gently settle to the earth. Still, in the end, both blanket the earth in white.

My headache fades a bit because there is wisdom to be found in the white stuff which has begun to fall. As those icy pellets tap my windowpane, their music lifts my spirit. I realize that Year 2021 brings its challenges, but it also brings promise. Sometimes, I’ll respond gently like the falling snow, because that’s what is needed at the moment. Sometimes, my actions may sting me or those around me as a result of what needs to be done. Either way, I’ll do what I can to blanket as much of this world as possible with God’s peace.

Loving God, you never said that our work will be easy, but you do promise always to be with us as we do it. Thank you!

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Make A Change

I am “a voice in the desert, crying out:
Make straight the way…”

John 1:23

I begin every New Year with great expectations for myself, for my loved ones and for this world of ours. I reflect upon my ever-growing list of imperfections and then select a few things which I can actually change. After devising my self-improvement plan, I consider those I’ve been given to love. My assessment of their needs is far less critical and far more nurturing than my own. I simply consider each one and wish him or her a New Year filled with the grace, wisdom and strength to do their best as best they can.

This world of ours is another story. I’m torn between heartbreak for our brothers and sisters whose suffering seems endless and anger toward those in power who can’t seem to get it right when it comes to creating peace on this earth. The divide between bondage and liberty, poverty and wealth, sorrow and joy seems to grow exponentially with every passing day. This year, the divide between health and illness has grown as well. Though opportunities to help have slipped through our collective fingers since the onset of this pandemic, we’ll begin a new year tomorrow. New Year 2021 offers new opportunities to make it a better year for us all.

Though my sphere of influence is minimal in the grand scheme of things, it is still mine. Every moment I’m given is mine. When I respond to the situations at hand lovingly and productively, I change the world in a positive way. When I respond with anger, hatred or even thoughtless impatience, I do the opposite.

It seems to me that the best New Year’s resolution I can make is to do everything I can to bring some measure of peace and love with me wherever I am. Sometimes, these efforts will be life-changing. Sometimes, they will be only moment-changing. Always, they will change this world for the better.

Loving God, be with us all as we bring your peace and love to this world, one moment at a time.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Hope For The Best

Our nation is glad and exults
because you rule the people in equity.
You guide the nations on earth
and the people praise you.

Psalm 67:5-6

I’ve shared often that, when I was a little girl, my parents assured me that it is always appropriate to bring our troubles to God. My parents’ seemingly familiar stance toward God encouraged me to speak plainly and directly in my own prayer. Though I’d like to think that I’ve refined my approach a bit, I still find myself speaking with God as I would with my best friend. I never ask if God is listening because I know.

I admit that I have turned my eyes upward to moan and groan often over the past several months. This world is in a sad state. While I try to do my best to care for those nearby, I also pray fervently that the broader situation for humanity will improve. This is Election Day. I pray that those who are elected into office at every level will search their hearts and turn their eyes upward for guidance. May all of our world leaders do the same. This world needs prudent and just, compassionate and peace-oriented governance more than ever.

In the mean time, I don’t question God’s attentiveness to all of this because I know that God always listens. Oddly, simply acknowledging these truths dispels the darkness and encourages my hope.

Dear God, thank you for listening. Now, please inspire all of those who govern with wisdom and the generosity of spirit necessary to lead competently and selflessly. May they serve all of your people rightly as you see it.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

A World-ful of Hope

We are God’s people,
the flock whom God tends…

From Psalm 100:3

I’ve headed out to walk more often than usual as my long-delayed annual physical approaches. I’m reasonably healthy and I hope not to hear that this is no longer the case. My blood pressure is normally quite good. However, current events have given plenty of reason to fret and wring our hands. My inability to do much to alleviate the messes around me doesn’t help. I truly need to adjust my mindset before that appointment.

As I walked the other day, I passed a pregnant mom pushing her toddler in a stroller. In spite of this world’s worries, this mom appeared completely carefree as she chatted with her little one about the fall leaves they passed along the way. She asked about his favorite color and if he wanted to take a few leaves home to Daddy. I couldn’t help smiling as I crossed the street to keep a safe distance between us. I also couldn’t help wishing that mother and child a good morning.

That joyful chatter dispelled my worries about my upcoming physical and everything else for a while. I turned my eyes upward to pray for that mom, her husband, her toddler and the baby-on-the-way. I requested an uneventful delivery and a happy and healthy newborn. I prayed that their home be filled with love, peace, patience, wisdom and generosity. I ended my prayer with words of thanksgiving for so many blessings received. I wouldn’t have known what to request for that little family if I hadn’t been blessed with the same.

As I headed home, it occurred to me that, beside the messes which have caused me so much worry as of late, there are also innumerable reasons for hope and it was indeed time to focus on that hope.

Loving God, this world is filled with hope. Please open my eyes to every bit of it!

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Do Unto Others…

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life…

From The Prayer of St. Francis

Years ago, when Mike and I visited New York City, we included the United Nations complex our “must see” list. UN Headquarters did not disappoint. Regardless of ones politics, the concept of world leaders gathered in one place to care for this one world seems beyond our human expectations. Still, they continue to meet. Through the numerous disagreements which plague their discussions, they continue to talk. This is an accomplishment!

A mosaic in the UN Conference Building took my breath away. This piece by Normal Rockwell was presented to the UN by First Lady Nancy Reagan. The eight-foot mosaic features a montage of adults and children of every race and color. In the midst of this gathering of humanity are the words, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” When the mosaic was refurbished in 2014, Secretary General Mr. Jan Eliasson remarked, “…it also reflects the very essence of our mission as set out in our charter.” Before Mike and I left that day, we purchased a small copy of that mosaic. I treasure this constant reminder of the standard by which I’m asked to live.

That mosaic’s message provides a fitting end to my references to the Prayer of St. Francis. You know, I’m fairly certain that those who sow unrest within our human family care little about St. Francis or The Golden Rule. Still, I hope the sentiments expressed by each bring some guidance and consolation as we navigate these difficult days. In the mean time, I’ll keep those effected by our current woes and those who can do something about them in my prayers. This means I’ll be praying for us all!

Compassionate God, be with us in our efforts to make this world a better place for all of your people.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved