As we watched a picture-perfect snowstorm out the window today, I was reminded of the snow-related care Nate put into action for our family. Before our teenage kids would drive away in a storm, he’d always check to be sure they had a snow scraper/brush in the back of their cars, often brushing them off before they got out there. He would always clean my car off, and if his schedule allowed, would volunteer to drive me wherever I needed to go, if a storm was in progress.
Our extra-long driveway was a bear to shovel, but he did more than his share, and if he was short on time, he’d still shovel a path to each car door.
He was faithful to check the windshield wiper fluid in the cars and add more to meet the fill lines, if needed. “Salty streets make for cloudy windows,” he’d say. “You don’t want to run out.”
We began thinking about buying a snow blower after shoveling that long driveway for 15 years. When a neighbor died and his widow offered to sell us his blower, Nate took her up on it. “The only thing is,” she said, “I’ll need someone to clear my driveway, too.”
That winter Nate began blowing snow off her driveway every time it was needed. He always did hers before ours, sometimes in his business suit and dress coat in the pre-dawn hours of a frigid weekday morning. Often he’d get hers finished but didn’t have time to do ours, slipping and sliding away in his sedan, on a rush to the commuter train.
I often think of Nate’s willingness to help this widow. Despite the major inconvenience of keeping her driveway “shoveled”, he never once complained about doing it. I’m ashamed to say I did complain a few times, but thankfully he just sloughed that off and remained consistent in his commitment.
Nate was duty-oriented, and since our neighbor had no one else to help her, he felt it was his duty to do so. The Bible says a great deal about widows, and God makes it clear he is pleased with those who help them. He is also pleased with those who keep whatever commitments they’ve made. God was watching Nate blow the equivalent of mountains of snow off our friend’s driveway over the years, but I don’t believe Nate was ever aware of divine approval on those icy mornings. He was simply doing the right thing, which of course is often the hardest thing.
Now I find I’m the widow needing help, and I’ve learned it’s difficult to ask. Nevertheless I’ve been surrounded by a host of friends willing to step in even before I ask, all of whom are bringing pleasure to God by helping me.
When the first big snowfall arrived outside our cottage in December, I was rummaging around in the basement looking for a snow shovel when I heard the delightful roar of a snow blower outside. Running upstairs to look, I saw our next-door-neighbor, pink-cheeked and dodging clouds of flying snow, clearing off our driveway. When I ran outside to express my enthusiasm, he smiled and said, “Well, those of us with blowers should help those who don’t have them.”
I’ll never forget the rush of feelings that came over me right then. I flashed back to Nate’s work on our neighbor’s driveway, as well as my self-centered whining about it. And I felt the difficulty of humbling myself to receive the help I needed (instead of saying, “Oh, you don’t have to do that!”) coupled with the deep gratitude I felt for my neighbor and his cheerful willingness to help the widow next door.
“Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? Those who… do what is right… Those who refuse to… harm their neighbors… and those who keep their promises, even when it hurts.” (Psalm 15:1-4, parts, TLB)