Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
The 25-minute drive from the Catholic Center to Saint Wendel School is generally my reprieve to listen (and perhaps sing along loudly) to the radio and unwind from the day’s stressors. This past week it seems the luster and majesty of the changing seasons have transformed the tall, green cornfields into waves of golden stalks ready for harvest. There’s a reason they call this “God’s Country.”
Field after field I passed, watching farmers in their red combines (there seems to be a disproportionate number of International Harvester tractors on the westside, much to my delight) patiently moving up and down the fields as they leave the straightest lines of soil and stalk residue in their wake.
We often do not stop to consider that the fields that are currently being harvested feed not only our area in the midwest but provide three-fourths of the nation’s food supply. The grain harvested is exported to feed nations around the world.
Now consider the possibility that in a matter of hours, all fields were wiped out before any chance of a harvest. Millions if not billions of dollars worth of revenue lost with no grain to produce food for our people.
In a matter of hours, Hurricane Maria wiped out at least 80 percent of the crop value in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. Experts predict there will be no agriculture, no food production for a year or longer. Entire plantations were destroyed. Herds of livestock are missing, literally lost. Roads are impassable due to landslides, making it impossible to deliver food even if the crops could be salvaged.
While reading the daily reports and news stories coming from Puerto Rico, one quote, in particular, has stayed with me. Félix Ortiz Delgado, a Puerto Rican farmer, asked a reporter from The New York Times,“You know what it’s like to see the place where you earn your daily bread destroyed?”
Schools and parishes are showing support through fundraisers, special collections, and clothing and food drives. Each day new plans are released to provide more help to the struggling country, as well as its counterparts traumatized by recent hurricanes. It is encouraging, and brings the thought of Matthew 25:44-45 to mind: “Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’”
I find myself more prayerful than usual during these rural drives. I pray for those gathering their crops ... that an abundant harvest can lead to providing aid and assistance to the areas in need. I give thanks for the farmers who give so much of their time and lives to grow safe, nourishing food for the people of this world.