Today reminds me that I love this town. I look out the window, and see nothing but snow. Reluctantly, I pull on layers of clothes, although the temperature says 40--better too warm than too cold for me. My dog Sirius loves snow, so he greets the stairs that must be somewhere under all this white stuff with tail wagging; as I uncover the stairs he tries to catch or get buried by every shovelful of snow. Apparently I don’t work fast enough—he has to bite the shovel!
Out into the street. A few sidewalks are pretty clear, but we go through those that aren’t, thinking we’re at least starting to clear a path. I stop at a coffee shop where people are talking about the snow. Back outside, there are people in front of almost every building. Town workers with machines, store owners with machines and shovels, men looking for work carrying shovels on their shoulders, teenagers clearing out cars, older folks shoveling slowly and steadily. People are generally good-natured, saying hello with lots of different accents, helping each other out (at least one man was shoveling out his elderly neighbor’s walkway). I stop to talk with store owners, neighbors, parents from school. I hear good news and bad news, all the while accompanied by the scrunch of snow shovels.
The snow is an interruption. Later in the day we’ll count the cost, the damage, the sore muscles, the usual litany of complaints. But, as with the aftermath of many disasters, in the beginning people pull together, united in common tasks. Then we get pulled back into “the story of me and mine,” and attention to the common good fades.
For a while though, we know something of what religions say God desires—people helping people do something good in the world, together.