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Nov 02, 2021 500 Mary Penich,
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You Are Deeply Loved

There’s no greater relief than to discover that someone is paying close attention to you all the time!

The other day I decided to walk outdoors to clear my head of worry. When I went out, I discovered a partly sunny, partly cloudy day. By the time I reached the sidewalk, a brisk breeze discovered me! I laughed as I said, “You don’t need to push me! I can walk on my own!”

As soon as I spoke to that wonderful breeze, I remembered that I was not alone. And I am never alone. I looked upward as I continued down the street and prayed: “Dear God, you know precisely when I need you to push me and when I’m able to walk on my own. Thank you for paying such close attention!” With that, I continued to enjoy the familiar scenery that is my neighborhood. With every step, a sense of belonging replaced the angst which had urged me out of the house.

I had been anxious because news reports from around the world offered little to smile about. Even the heroic athletes at this summer’s Olympics failed to distract us from the planet’s sorry state. When some of these healthiest of us humans contracted the COVID variant, I wondered if we will ever be rid of this virus. As I considered that possibility, I thought about everyone around the world who has always wondered whether they would ever be rid of injustice and poverty, war and oppression, disease and natural disasters.

The gospels speak of a young boy who was in the crowd on the day when five thousand came to hear Jesus, without thinking about their dinner. Realizing that those gathered must be very hungry, Jesus turned to his disciples and asked where they might get food to feed them all. The Gospel tells us that there was nothing available except the basket of five barley loaves and two fish which that young boy had brought along.

Since childhood, I have wondered how that boy managed to protect his food in the midst of that hungry crowd. I have also wondered what Jesus did to ease that basket from the boy’s hands and into His own. What made the boy give up what might have been his only meal that day or a source of income if he had sold the loaves to someone in the crowd? I think the answer lies in the familiar scenery which was that boy’s neighborhood- -the hillside, perhaps his parents and neighbors in the crowd and, of course, Jesus. Although he might not have met Jesus before, he had certainly heard His stories and he surely felt His love.

Although I enjoy the trees and flowers and homes that line the streets of my neighborhood, my favorite aspects of this familiar scenery are the people whom I meet along the way. In each one, I see the joy that makes them smile and the tears which accompany their sadness. I see soft hands which hug children and calloused hands which earn enough to clothe and feed a family. I see strong legs which run to help an elderly neighbor capture her escaped dog and gentle arms which embrace a grieving neighbor.

In every person I meet, I see someone who needs to be pushed a bit at times, and I see someone who at other times can walk on his or her own. In every person I meet, I see a soul about whom God says, “I know precisely when to push you and when you are able to walk on your own. I pay very close attention to each one of you because I love you!”

Knowing that God loves me makes all the difference. Knowing God is with me urges me on. Knowing God pays close attention to my joy and to my sorrow strengthens me to face it all because I am not facing it alone.

If there is anything we can do for one another while we dwell in this world-full-of-trouble, it is to remind one another that we face these things together, with one another and with God at our side. Because God loves us and always pays attention to us, nothing is too great to bear!

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Mary Penich

Mary Penich is a wife, mom, grandma and inspirational writer. After retiring from her career as a reading teacher and administrator, Mary began writing daily reflections at marypenich.com. She and her deacon husband serve at St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Gurnee.

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