In the relative warmth of 49 degrees Fahrenheit, I dragged the seventy-five-pound eight-foot by four-foot ramp into the garage, onto a canvas drop cloth, closed the garage door, turned on the lights, and plugged in a heater. With a temperature of 50 degrees, I could roll on the paint—a grit-filled goop, smelling of ammonia like an enormous litter box overdue for a cleaning—to the ramp. The wind had blown warm for two days, had melted all the snow, and had brought a steady day-long drizzle. By midnight, when I rolled on the last coat, the rain had turned to snow. I was engulfed in my insulated coveralls, ear muffs, hat, heavy coat, and big snow boots when I met Mom in the kitchen. She told me the garage lights would not come on, and would I check the breaker in the basement, and would I read the letter from Homespire and tell her what it meant. With the breaker switched back on and the letter explained, I took my overheating self outside to confront 12 inches of new snow, the wettest and heaviest snow of this depth I have known. Two hours with Dad’s husky Toro almost finished the job, which I cut short to dash upstairs, peel off my drenched clothes, and re-dress for church. The Zoom link would not work, so Dad missed remote church services again. I got Mom’s Subaru stuck in the middle of the snowbound street, but managed to gain four-wheel traction and drove the block to church. Bless her heart, Mom really wanted to go to church, despite the snow and ice—using her cane in one hand and with her other arm in mine, we inched our way over the snowy walks and into the building, then down the aisle to her accustomed padded bench. I felt eyes boring into my back as we made our way, late, to our seats, and I wondered why I cared, especially knowing what good people they are. Another four inches fell during church meetings. Terry and I joined forces to re-shovel our driveways and sidewalks, then to tackle the 16-inch-deep snow at Melissa’s house across the street. I queried my motives for moving the snow from her three-car driveway. She is single and neighborly—was I trying to impress? I decided not. T. Wright writes that to do something “in Jesus’ name” has less to do with the name of Jesus than with the way of Jesus. “[A]s we get to know who Jesus is…we find ourselves drawn into his life and love and sense of purpose. We will then begin to see what needs doing” within our sphere of influence, and get to work—in his name. Dad has shoveled snow from Melissa’s driveway for 24 years. I decided that, no, I was not seeking her attentions; rather, I was continuing my father’s Christian work because he can no longer do the work himself, and because the snowblower and her driveway are now within my sphere of influence, and because I am carrying on Dad’s work, doing it in his name, for his honor. Over the concussive combustion of two hefty snowblowers, Terry and I communicated with simple hand motions, a thumbs up here, a directional wave of an arm there, a knife hand across the throat to say “we’re done here.” He is 82 and slowing down, and despite the muscle of his monster machine, he was tired and glad to be done for the day. My snow removal efforts amounted to four hours and aching hands and shoulders and a satisfied conscience. And the snow is still falling.
(Pictured above: deep snow in Settlement Canyon, Tooele, Utah.)