WARNING…. This is NOT a comment on your driveway. Please don’t read it as such! J
Towards the end of last winter a neighbor, who I don’t know well and have only said “Hi,” in passing to, came by as I was shoveling my driveway. In a somewhat disparaging tone he commented, “Your driveway is always cleared. It’s the only one where you can see cement.” I wasn’t quite sure how to respond…. Should I thank him, even though it didn’t seem to be a compliment? Should I apologize? Should I challenge his tone? In the end I didn’t say anything as his dog pulled him down the street to continue her walk.
Last week, as I was chipping an inch of ice off the driveway before the next snowfall, I remembered his remark, and wondered why I do keep my driveway clear. The first, easy answer is that I have people coming to my home for spiritual direction and healing sessions, so of course I want it to be easy for them to get to my front door. And if it’s not clients, then friends, delivery people, myself! Who wants to slip and slide on a driveway? As a Benedictine Monastic, hospitality is one of the tenets of life. Can I treat everyone I interact with, as Christ himself? Whoever is coming to my door? Can I create a clear path for them as a first indication of welcome?
But as I was working on that ice, I realized a deeper understanding of why I was scraping this ice away, even knowing the snow was coming that night. I was reflecting on the overwhelming climate news… fires burning out of control, the many ways we are destroying God’s creation, the apathy that seems to settle on us collectively as we buy the belief that our little acts don’t make a difference. So what if we boycott disreputable companies, use cloth toilet paper, eat vegetarian, recycle and reduce consumerism. The world is still burning around us. This feeling of inadequacy can settle on me as a heavy weight, and I wonder why I try to do my best for our planet. It would be easier not to be informed than to know and feel this way. It would be easier to fall back asleep to the harm we humans are inflicting on the world.
So I felt, in that moment, as if clearing my driveway is a sign of my refusing to turn my back, a statement of my care for Nature, my re-commitment to doing something to show care for creation, to worship this beauty God has given us stewardship of. It seems like an act of rebellion, of refusing to fall to the standard of the lowest common denominator or not shoveling driveways, and to say to the world: I STILL CARE. It is a message to God that here, on this little strip of land, I am doing my best to be a steward of what I have been given. That the rabbits and squirrels won’t have to work quite so hard to move around. That people will have an easier passage. And even if it doesn’t matter or make a difference in the world, it makes a statement of love right here.
So when you see me, cheeks bright red from the cold, shovel in hand, a smile (or grimace) on my face, know that it is an act of gratitude and staying awake to the world around me, of me acknowledging that little things make a difference, that I’m mindful of what I have, that it takes hard work to do the work of change, and see each shovel as a prayer of love for the world!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.