Friday, February 21, 2014

What Your Neighbor is Trying to Tell You


The wind blew gales all night, buffeting the house, and we snuggled deeper under beds' blankets.

In dark twilight six am, five year old Daniel knocks on our door, and it's my turn to get up with him. We lumber sleepy-eyed out to the couch, dodging Legos, to curl up in silence. Heavy snow drags branches heavy, and we marvel that they haven't snapped. Tree branch fingertips trail the tops of deep snowbanks against the fence, and the wind blows hard. Sculpted snow whips eroded silver dust into the air, as orange flashing snow-plows roar down dark side streets. Half a moon hangs dimly in the sky.

Sunshine soon dries a foggy twilight, and yellows and blues highlight snowy trees. After lunch, my husband and I pull on black snowpants, red stocking caps, and wind up in long scarves. While he tackles thigh-high snowdrifts in the driveway, Daniel and I laugh and fall through hip-high snow, sinking trapped into white quicksand. Laughter echoes off yellow houses as we tumble and fall.

"Mom!" he yells, panicked. "Help, get me." Hip-high snow for me is chin-high on him, and he is sensing his peril. I crouch down, pulling him onto my back, and we hike monkey-style through a white backyard.

Arriving winded in the front of the house, I deposit Daniel to safety and join my man, who is shoveling up front. He stops heaving snow to draw my attention to something.

"Look, see the sides of the driveway? Someone snow-blowed our driveway. See?" Tall angled edges outline our driveway, trace around our cars, and weave a path to our garage, hints of a straight-edged snowblower.

Humbled, amazed, and delightfully touched, we are hit with the realization of how much work they did, and how much work they saved us. Even the end of our driveway had been freed from the city snowplows who normally throw up giant walls of snow, blocking us in. Wow.

We smile and look over at their yard, wanting to thank them. With no one in sight, we pull our caps down lower against the stinging wind, and jab our shovels into remaining thigh-high piles of snow. Galing winds throw the snow back into our faces, sculpting drifts anew beside us, and wicking away shiny sweat and melted snow from our faces. Bending low, we dig and throw snow, dig and throw, bodies aching quickly.

An hour later, in the warmth of the house, I pack up fresh chocolate chip cookies into a plastic bag, write out a note of thanks for their gift of Vietnamese egg rolls earlier and for the snow-blowing gift, using cut and paste from an online translating program to put my words into Vietnamese.

Friendship and community can be spoken through smiles, egg rolls, hand gestures, sweet milky cardamom tea, chocolate chip cookies, and snow-blowing surprises.

14 comments:

Betty Draper said...

Will you come and be my neighbor?
Found a place, moving next week and will get to make some new friends in my new neighbors.

Floyd said...

That is so cool!!! Just when you feel the depth of despair for our society, God shows you the depth of His love in a small action of a neighbor.

I've a hunch they've been on the receiving end of His grace through your actions as well. Good job, sister.

Jennifer Dougan said...

Betty,

Wouldn't that be fun to have coffee conversations that way? :)

May your move go smoothly this week. Do you have friends or family helping you guys?!

Jennifer
www.jenniferdougan.com

Marja Verschoor-Meijers said...

Better a good neighbor than a far-away friend, right?

Jennifer Dougan said...

Floyd,

Isn't it encouraging? I agree. So humbling and thankful.

Jennifer
www.jenniferdougan.com

Betty Draper said...

Jennifer this will bless your heart. Last week while my husband was getting parts at Auto zone he notice this guy putting in a new battery his car. Ace had been looking at that car model to buy so he went over to ask him about it. Glen invited Ace to join a group of men who meet every week for prayer and breakfast. This Glen emailed Ace twice to encouraged him to come. Ace went, and all the men offered to help us move. Long story to tell you, yes, God has provided once again in more then one way. I had been praying Ace would join a men group...God is good.

Seen on the news Mn got blasted again with a snow...keep warm my friend.

Jennifer Dougan said...

Marja,

Both are nice. :)

Have a great week,
Jennifer
www.jenniferdougan.com

Jennifer Dougan said...

Betty,

How exciting of God to bring both a new men's group into your husband's life, as well as kind people to help you guys move! :) What a sweet God, huh?

Jennifer
www.jenniferdougan.com

AmyAlves said...

Hi Jennifer! I loved the beauty and description of this post! Blessings prayed over your continued growth in life, and in love with God. We also have piles upon piles of snow and it's beautiful. I'm doing great! I haven't had much time and promptings to blog lately. Come find me consistently on my coaching page. I would love to keep connected with you girl! https://www.facebook.com/FullHerLife?ref=hl
~Blessings out, Amy

T.J. Ellis said...

Great story! I marvel at your talent! Great to have nice neighbors! Sorry my visits are sporadic. We had 7 plus inches of snow a couple weeks ago. Totally rare for our area.

Jayne said...

What a sweet story and gesture from your neighbors! I do not envy having to shovel snow. Come down south and you can enjoy snow that is here today and gone tomorrow! haha!

Jennifer Dougan said...

Amy,

So nice to talk with you. Glad that coaching is going well. :) May God use that ministry in neat ways in you and through to others!

Sorry, I haven't mingled my fb and blog world yet.

Nice to talk with you again,
Jennifer Dougan
www.jenniferdougan.com

Jennifer Dougan said...

TJ,

Hi, nice to "speak" with you. :) Seven inches of snow is a lot everywhere, but especially in your warmer corner, right?

Have a great week,
Jennifer Dougan
www.jenniferdougan.com

Jennifer Dougan said...

Yes, Jayne, weren't they sweet?

No shoveling down by you, huh? Wow. :)

Have a great week,
Jennifer Dougan
www.jenniferdougan.com