Well, that was unusual.
If you live anywhere on the East coast (or watch the news), you know that much of the area experienced a record-breaking blizzard last weekend. Here in the Baltimore area, we received nearly 30 inches of snow in 24 hours. Crazy, right? (Well—at least for Baltimore.)
Of course, after the wonderment comes the inconvenience. While it was fun watching the snow fall and the winds blow from inside our comfy home, the next day was much less fun, notwithstanding the rather enjoyable sunny and mild weather. The sheer volume of snow that had to be shoveled was quite overwhelming. Yet even this had the potential for a deeper sense of appreciation.
When morning came and everyone started heading out to take stock of the situation, folks around the neighborhood all stood at their doorsteps and looked around at the same sight—two-and-a-half feet of snow covering everything (including, depending on the quality of your municipal services, the street on which you live).
And then we all got to work.
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I lent two shovels to the family across the street, whose family had come to visit for the weekend from New York and L.A. (“…my kids have never seen snow before—they must think this is what it’s always like!”). Later on, they sent a crew to help with our shoveling. Our next-door neighbor hired the driver of a Bobcat all-wheel steer loader to clear his driveway. Then the rest of us took turns hiring him to clear our driveways as well.
Later on, we organized a minyan in his home because, even after the walk was cleared, the barely-plowed street was too difficult for him to navigate in his wheelchair.
Life is busy. We don’t often get to commune much as a neighborhood, despite the Jewish calendar’s many holidays. But in the face of a collective challenge like a record-breaking blizzard, we all head outside and join in the effort together. It forces us to stop for a short while (particularly since driving anywhere was virtually out of the question) and face life together.
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So while I wouldn’t wish the trouble on us again, I must concede that the community atmosphere was refreshing—a silver lining to those impressively well-stocked winter clouds.
If you can, take a moment to connect with your neighbors. Check on the seniors on your street. Offer to share some hot chocolate with the kids down the block. Push a car or two out of the ice.
In this crazy-paced world we often forget to say hi to the people right next door. When we’re forced to hunker down in the face of Mother Nature, don’t let it isolate you. Humans have always fared best as a team, anyway.