Thank God we are not digging out of 20″ of snow! Lent is all-too-often welcomed onto the calendar with a wet blizzard.
Not long ago, that is just what happened. Back-to-back snow storms kicked off Lent and kickstarted my entry into the six precious weeks when we deliberately welcome the death and resurrection of Jesus into our calendar.
Here’s the story:
Our house shares a common driveway with four other garages. We have often had a communal shovel-fest after a blizzard.
During the first deluge that year, one of my neighbors did not shovel out the area in front of his garage door. This was not too surprising, since he does not own a car. When we and the other neighbors were shoveling out after the second snowfall, we piled shovelfuls of snow in front of the car-less neighbor’s door. He was upset when he saw the pile, since he wanted to park a rental car in the driveway.
One of the neighbors was upset back—“You didn’t help shovel the whole driveway! Get involved and we’ll apologize.” It was the language of justice. She blamed him for his own immorality, how he did not do his part. And she blamed him for his own poverty, how he was actually too frail to help. His poor health and other issues didn’t change her mind. Like the Little Red Hen, she was not about to give him a slice of the driveway after he didn’t plant, harvest, or bake the ingredients! He didn’t do his share and now he wanted bread!
I was honestly in a dilemma. I thought I would get in trouble if I shoveled off the snow we’d piled up—it was the principle of the thing! I let it sit overnight and then thought the Lord wanted me to dig the neighbor a spot. It took me a half an hour of secret digging. It was not much effort, but it was not the kind of effort the neighborhood justice required. It was a risk to violate normality.
This memory makes me wonder again if Lent will be ignored this year because we’re too busy surviving the way we do when we are not living. The poor will be too busy fighting for a parking space, the hard-working people will be making sure their food is not stolen, and the rich will be doing whatever the rich do. Normality will not require us to reach out and connect with God or reach out to love like Jesus—and alternativity could slip onto the calendar in Ash Wednesday without much notice.