This past weekend brought a lot of snow to Colorado Springs. Nothing on the scale of what the northeast is experiencing this winter (thank you God!), but the 7” that fell on our driveway over the course of two days was the most I remember shoveling in the 6 ½ years since we moved to the Rocky Mountains (believe it or not).
The snow brought along with it a gift – a snow day for Focus on the Family on Monday … plus a delayed start on Tuesday! I won’t complain about a 3+ day weekend, any week of the year.
What I didn’t like so much was the shoveling. In all, I had two rounds of shoveling my modestly-sized driveway and front sidewalk. Accompanying me was my trusty dog, Ari, as well as (for varying amounts of time) Daughter #1, Daughter #2 and my wife, Tiffany.
The girls (including Ari) all had fun, while I trudged through the inches of snow with my rickety shovel. I know it’s a good snow when I actually need to use the shovel over my 24” push broom (the light/dry snow here often makes clearing the driveway fairly easy).
Now, the key fathering scene from the weekend occurred toward the end of round #1 of shoveling. By that time, Tiffany had taken Daughter #2 inside for her nap, leaving Ari and Daughter #1 as my companions. I was seeing the end of the road (literally and figuratively) when my older, widowed neighbor Mary had come out of her house and started toward our house.
After exchanging some pleasantries, talking about all the white stuff glistening around us (as even more fell on our heads), and making a fuss over Daughter #1, Mary extended her hand with a $20 bill and asked if I’d shovel her driveway.
By this point, I was ready to wrap up the last bit of my sidewalk and head in for warmer temps and a hot mug of cocoa (with a mound of marshmallows on top). But, I also grew up in a family that always took care of our next door neighbor, Linda, who also was widowed. I remember us shoveling her driveway a bunch of times. I was relieved when Dad bought a snow blower, thus rendering my shoveling efforts (of our driveway and Linda’s) unnecessary.
With that in mind, I shrugged off my exhaustion and told Mary that I’d gladly shovel her driveway. When she motioned me to take the $20, I declined. I told her it’d be my pleasure to do it and the money wasn’t necessary. At that point, Mary tried to haggle with me, trying to get me to take at least $10. I stood firm. I wanted to do this for her. To show her neighborly, and godly love with no strings attached. She reluctantly relented and thanked me profusely.
That’s when I realized that Daughter #1 was listening to the entire conversation. I couldn’t have planned that – I’m just not that good. I couldn’t have been more excited that she was able to see and observe me loving on our neighbor.
As soon as I finished up our sidewalk and I started heading toward Mary’s house, I figured that Daughter #1 would jump ship for a mug of cocoa. But, to my surprise, she tagged along. As we made our way over, I could spot one of my other neighbors firing up their snow blower and after clearing their own driveway, took care of two of the other driveways in the neighborhood. I could feel the neighborly love going around, as that neighbor and I were helping out where we could (though I wished I had a snow blower in the effort).
Mid-shovel toss, Daughter #1 asked questions about what I was doing and why. I was happy for the chance to answer that I was clearing Mary’s driveway for her because she would have trouble doing it herself. Daughter #1 then decided to help as much as her 4-year-old frame could muster. And, when she got bored doing that, she made games of picking up the large snowballs that formed as I slid my shovel through the snow. I love that little girl. I can only hope (and, obviously, pray) that she’ll pick up on the little moments where I try to show her what loving your neighbor can be about.