Persons, places and things: Making the connection

Barb Arland-Fye

On a bicycle ride with my husband Steve last Sunday I noticed a smattering of gold-colored leaves on the grounds of a wooded area we traveled through. The weather has been so dry, the earth so parched, that autumn seems to have arrived in mid-July!
The leaves on our tomato plants in our garden have shriveled, and even the flies are hot enough to want to come inside the house.
Everywhere we go in the Midwest, people raise concerns about the corn and soybean crops and how the drought will affect food prices here and abroad. The Monroe (Wis.) Times reports that drought has impacted the apple crop.  But the crisis isn’t isolated to the Midwest.
The BBC News US & Canada website reports that the U.S. is suffering its widest drought since 1956, citing data released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
A “Prayer for Farms and Ranches in Drought” on the National Catholic Rural Life Conference website laments how “the earth is frustrated by lack of rain” and implores: “Have mercy, O Lord, on our parched lands, our worried minds, our anxious hearts.”
Conversely, on the World News page of this week’s Catholic Messenger an Irish bishop has appealed to his parishioners to pray for a break in the rain and in northeast India, Church relief workers are striving to respond to massive flooding and landslides there.
Ireland’s Bishop Denis Brennan of Ferns expresses a sentiment that resonates with people worldwide: “Our real thoughts and prayers are with the farming community at this time. I am very conscious of the vital role it plays in our society and our economy.”
All of us depend on the fruits of the earth, which are a gift from God, as are the farmers who work the soil to produce the food that sustains us.
My daily prayer includes a petition to God that more and more of us will work together and help one another to ensure that everyone in the world has their basic needs met for food and water, shelter and clothing, love and respect. How easy that prayer leaves my lips when my needs are being met, but the weather-related crises here and abroad have caused me to pause and wonder how to put that prayer into direct action.
To paraphrase a suggestion from columnist Frank Wessling in this week’s Catholic Messenger editorial on the lack of rain, we ought to wake up from complacency and see our connection with everyone in need.
I thought about the ramifications of that comment at the end of my long bicycle ride with Steve. We had not had enough water to keep us hydrated in the 93-degree heat. At the top of a hill about two miles from our car, Steve stopped. He looked ill and I suspected the heat had gotten to him.
We spoke briefly about me going to get the car when another bicyclist, angry because he thought we were in his way, came to a full stop. The bicyclist heard me ask Steve if he needed help. The bicyclist never said a word, just glared at each of us and pedaled off. I recognized that response as a missed connection. The dry weather and the parched earth seemed to have affected his spirit.
Barb Arland-Fye

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