Milk, water, and wine


This morning I opened the fridge after making my morning cup of tea to find disaster: a glass container of milk had exploded overnight and the entire fridge was awash in milk. Every shelf, wall, and every piece of food was slathered in a milk bath–from the cheese drawer to the bags of carrots and bagels. After briefly screaming in my own head “Mom!” (until I remembered that I am the mom in this house, and with my husband and oldest kid in NYC for the weekend, this was going to be my job), I cleaned up. An hour and a half or so later, the fridge is clean, food thrown out or containers washed, and fridge walls, shelves, and kitchen floor freshly disinfected. Now the fridge looks pretty good–and with some of the produce now washed and sitting in bowls and old jelly jars thrown out, the interior of the refrigerator looks almost good enough for a designer ad. And, as the saying goes, there is no use crying over spilled milk.

Coincidentally, I prayed last night the miracle at Cana (today’s gospel reading) in the manner of an Ignatian contemplation, and imagined the cause of the shortage of wine was that a cask had broken open in the basement of the house where the wedding party was being thrown. The basement floor was flooded with red wine.  In my prayer, I suggested to Jesus that maybe he could turn the wine into water, since he can do it the other way around, and then clean up would be a lot easier! (This same thought kept coming to me as I cleaned up the milk this morning; alas, no miracle.) But instead, Jesus left the mess and carried up a big barrel of water, which he promptly turned into wine that the guests greatly enjoyed. Jesus remarked that his ministry is not only about cleaning up the messes, but also about feasting and celebrating, and that I’m invited to the feasting, too.

The prayer was short and simple, but reminded me that life is not only about accomplishing the tasks that need to get done–grocery shopping, preparing the first day of class, or cleaning up after a minor domestic disaster–but also celebrating with each other. We can celebrate and enjoy our marriages, friendships, and communities. Every time we go to the Eucharistic table, which is prefigured in the miracle at Cana, we celebrate our communion not only with those in the same parish, but every other Christian who partakes of the meal. We are even joined in community with those who have gone on before us, home to God.

Lent is coming, but first there is time to celebrate. We are the “good wine” that Jesus is slowly transforming; let’s remember it.