Monday, February 8, 2010


I had a long weekend thanks to the mid-Atlantic snowstorm that dumped 16" of snow in Staunton over 36 hours and over 2.5 feet in Northern Virginia. I took advantage of this long weekend (and the thought that, perhaps, it might be even longer, considering the road conditions after so much snow falls...I was right) to catch up with some friends that I haven't spoken to in quite some time. There are still more friends that I need to catch up with, but it was nice to talk to people.

With one such person, after we caught up on each other's lives, our conversation turned to the snow. She lives in the Baltimore area, so she was getting more than Staunton. We talked about the storm that hit on December 19th (when I was conveniently in Illinois, thank God), and the current storm. She was telling me how she and her husband went outside to try to dig out their car at one point. They had a shovel and scrapers, and were working at it. She mentioned that her neighbors were out there, too, all working on their own cars. It was as if a sort of bond was made between them. People they may have never spoken to before, but they were sharing in the experience of digging their cars out from under 2.5 feet of snow.

After our conversation, I started to think about my own neighbors. I live in a townhouse with 6 units. There are two other townhouses in our little "block", each also having 6 units. That makes 18 apartments that share a sectioned off parking area. I recognize the cars of the people in my townhouse, and the cars of several other "neighbors" because we happen to be coming or going at the same time often enough for me to make an association between a face and a car. I am ashamed to say I only know the name of one of my neighbors, though I have shared pleasantries and exchanged words with several.

Anyway, two of the residents in my townhouse are of grandparent age. After the conversation with my friend, I thought, "How could I help them out, show them love during and after this storm?" It's not that I've never thought of being nice to my neighbors before, but here I was given a fairly obvious opportunity to show love in action, as we are called. At one point Sunday morning, I had recently come inside from sweeping the snow off the roof of my car. I had un-bundled and was just about to sit down and relax for a few minutes before going out to start shoveling. I looked out the window, though, and saw one of my elder neighbors starting to sweep off his truck. I was presented with a choice: stay inside and follow my own "schedule" or go out and offer to help. For once, I chose to go out and help.

It was nice to take the time and help this man. We shared a conversation and I got to know a little more about him. Later, he let me borrow his shovel to work on my own parking space. I also took the shovel and helped clear his space. I'm not saying this to brag and say, "Look what I did this weekend." I'm saying it to encourage anyone who reads this to make a small choice. When presented with the option, don't be afraid to interrupt your plans or routine in order to lend a hand. Be willing and flexible. Open your eyes for opportunities to show love in action to the people around you. I think this can happen more often than only when a city gets pounded by snow. :-)

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