Daily Bread – Reflections on Twenty Years as a Missionary

Sr. Fay in the background dispensing Daily Bread. Photo by Rev. David Reilander

My days are full, Lord, sharing Daily Bread. So, what ‘bread’ do you ask me to share, Lord, here on the shores of the Arctic Ocean? The church likes to call Daily Bread the Works of Mercy: Feed, Visit, Welcome the Stranger, Bury the Dead. Or Daily Bread, might be the more spiritual gifts of giving instruction, guidance, comfort and often alms.

Well, Lord, for Nell, daily bread seems to be just coming by, almost every day now, for security and comfort, and a bowl of soup. Her dementia is growing, Lord.

For John, it means helping him to calm his anger and distress, side effects of fetal alcohol syndrome, abandonment and marihuana use. And, of course, he doesn’t know how to cook. Don’t we all get hungry? 

A delightful part of daily bread is the phone call asking “would you pray with me…my worries, my health, my need for God…?”

There are those folks, too, Lord, who just want to pass time telling stories and remembering, easing their loneliness, isolation and unemployment. 

Then there is the daily bread I always expect to give: sacramental prep and Sunday Church wrapped around brunch or a cup of tea and a slice of homemade bread.

Sr. Fay leading a healing workshop

Our human inadequacies are so many, Lord, and there are so many needs. How to network through good communication, be generous beyond the call of duty, enable others or plan.  So, Lord, there are many hungers calling for daily bread:  the need for planning, good leadership, presence in hopelessness and tragedy.   And so many dishes to do and mud at the door and endless tidying up and sorting of paper work – all the daily bread of our efforts at order.  And then there are the poor, like Boss, with multiple strokes, who can’t do their laundry or cleaning or tend to their bodily sores.

Daily bread is often just crumbs, like picking up an elder stumbling with his walker along a gravel road.  Crumbs are bread, too, Lord.  Maybe it is all we’ve got near the end of our day, in our own hunger and frailty.

And then a surprise, an invitation to a banquet! Launch out into the deep. Be creative. We can set up a Men’s Shed in a 40 foot trailer, with a wood stove, materials for small repairs and a Board to oversee its progress – first steps in enabling self-sufficiency.  Or at another time, sponsorship by the Canadian Bible Society to have week-long healing workshops in Arctic communities, a need long articulated. True, maybe there was no room at the inn-of-society but something new is to be born. Push back the pews in the small church, set up a talking circle for sharing and learning. We will need a computer and, of course, a coffee pot brewing near the back door.

Much of our daily bread is crumbs scattered and smiles. All is daily bread given in the Arctic and everywhere! Praise you, Lord, in Daily Bread! Amen