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Unpredictability

It is winter where I live. This means cold weather and snow but how predictable is the weather? Since about mid-last week, the weather forecasters in the northeast were calling for a significant snowstorm for Sunday into Monday. By last Friday they were saying the snow would begin Sunday evening about 8 pm and last through the night until Monday, bringing a total of 8 to 12 inches.

When did it start to snow? Sunday about 7:00 pm. So, the weather forecasters had it right for the start time.

When did it stop? Where I live, it stopped about 8:30 am on Monday. We had occasional snow showers throughout the day, but with little additional accumulation. However, there will some areas that did continue to see accumulation throughout the day. So, again, the weather forecasters were accurate as to when it would end.

How much snow did we get? Where I live there was 7 to 8 inches in the valleys and 9 to 10 inches on the hilltops. Some places did get more. So, the weather forecasters were close.

Are the weather forecasters always right? No. I mean them no disrespect. Forecasting the weather involves science. They use computer modelling but it isn’t always right. For example, last Friday there was little chance of snow. On Saturday, the chance of snow was almost non-existent. Friday started out with the temperatures in the 20’s and fell throughout the day. Saturday there was little chance of snow and the temperatures were in the single digits.

It was easy to believe the weather forecasters. With temperatures so low, it was unlikely that it would snow. Unlikely, but not impossible. It snowed. Friday night we probably got an inch of snow or a little more. Saturday morning we had snow showers with just enough snow for a fresh dusting to cover everything. The forecasters were wrong. Well, wrong depending on where you lived. The snow didn’t reach very far. It was “lake effect snow,” which is uncommon where I live. Watkins Glen is at the south end of Seneca Lake but seldom do we get much lake effect snow.

The weather has an element of unpredictability to it.

When it comes to the weather, what is the ideal weather? There is no one answer. Skiers want some snow. Other people don’t want to have to shovel any snow. What about the temperature? 60’s? 70’s? Some people like it ever hotter. We like sunshine. However, we need some rain but how much?

Just as the weather has an element of unpredictability, so does life.

Just as everyone has their own preference for the ideal weather, everyone has their own opinion of what life should be like.

There are the basic necessities of life like food, water, clothing, and a home. Everyone should have these basic necessities but not everyone does. For those who are used to always being able to get the groceries they want when they want it, the Coronavirus has opened our eyes a little bringing empty store shelves and supply chain problems.

For some people, the ideal life means never having to go to work. Others love their jobs and keep working into their 70’s and 80’s. For many of us, life is in-between. We like what we do in general but there are elements in our lives that we won’t miss if they were gone.

For me, I love saying Mass, hearing confessions, and teaching people about our faith. This is what I feel called by God to do. However, there are other aspects of my job I have to deal with. For instance, we have to take care of our buildings so that we have a place to worship and gather. We have bills to pay for the things we need to serve the people. Even the parts of our jobs that we enjoy can involve unpredictability. I can have an emergency anointing that needs immediate attention. Funerals happen on short notice. God provides, both in the predictable and the unpredictable.

People want to have control over their lives but how much control do we really have? As much as we might like to have our lives a certain way, the choices other people make in their lives influence our lives. Sometimes we don’t make the choices we should and we lead ourselves down a path that we did not intend.

How do we determine how we live our lives? Is it based on utilitarianism, meaning the greatest good for the greatest number? Is it based on the pleasure principle, what brings us the greatest pleasure is the greatest good (aka hedonism).

Utilitarianism has its good points. We ought to be concerned with the needs of others. However, what or who determines the “greatest good”? For many, the individual determines it themselves. For me, it is set by God. God reveals how we should live through the Bible, revealing his teachings, and the Holy Spirit who guides us to apply it in our daily lives. God guides the Church to help us know how to live his commandments in the world today.

We can choose to have our own plan but we don’t know everything that will influence our lives. Life is unpredictable such that we can’t plan for everything.

However, God can. God sees everything. God is all-knowing. God has a plan for us. “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the Lord—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Life does not always go the way we want. When life doesn’t go the way we would like, we can pray the Serenity Prayer,

“God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.”

(See my blog article on the entire Serenity Prayer)

Life goes best when we do not seek our own will. Life is best when we seek what we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, thy will be done.

God, please give us the desire and courage to seek your will in all things.

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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