Bread and Milk


A week ago we had the first weather report of the year that we might have had snow on the weekend. The local meteorologists at once became our best friends and the most derided profession in town. On the one hand, we made frequent visits to the TV news channels, the weather apps and we checked with “Alexa” to find out whether there was any change in the prognostication. On the other hand we harrumphed to our friends, online and in person that those weather reporters don’t have a clue as to what really was going to happen. Over the years we’ve learned that weather reports have been so right on the mark, and yet so wrong at times.

So how do we know when it’s really time to get out to the stores to get the bread and milk? I think we rely on our most recent memory. If the last time a real snowstorm blew in and we didn’t have enough “bread and milk” — or whatever other staples of being stuck at home were needed — then this time we’re tempted to buy early and often so we’re not at a disadvantage. On the other hand, if last time we had plenty, we’re less motivated to fill the larder as a storm is predicted.

This short-term preparedness memory applies to other aspects of our lives too. When things are not going well, we reach out to God in prayer; we reach out to our family, friends and neighbors for support and assistance. When things are fine, we can easily forego the praying and the other relational aspects of our lives. We can feel self-sufficient and overly confident that we can handle all things by ourselves.

I sometimes think that prayerful activities such as reading the bible and going to church are akin to food shopping. We’re building up within us the spiritual “bread and milk” that will sustain us when life’s storms arrive. Certainly many people have had the experience of going to church and thinking, “Wow, that message was meant for me today!” And at other times they wonder how the message fit into their lives only to discover that while it didn’t seem to be immediately relevant, on a later day the message was exactly what they needed to sustain them.

We also need meteorologists in our spiritual lives. These are the people who help us to evaluate the conditions in our lives and help us to take appropriate steps for our spiritual growth and survival. Sometime they are religious leaders, but as often they are spouses, parents, siblings, and even our children who speak certain truths to us. Perhaps there is a wise person at work or in our neighborhood who is a good listener and who can help us make sense of our lives. This is a spiritual meteorologist whose insights are helpful in both the calm and stormy moments of our lives. If you have such persons in your life, be sure to let them know how much their help has meant.

We don’t know if this winter is going to be a rough or gentle one, but we’ll be following the weather reports so we’re prepared for what might happen. I encourage everyone to have the same interest in developing their personal weather map in the weeks ahead so they are prepared for the spiritual and inter-personal changes that are sure to come.

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Pastor of St. Bernard's since 2013 and known for his engaging homilies and community presence, Father Ralph Sommer is also a treasured columnist for the Levittown Tribune.


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