Shoveling Sidewalks and Bottling Sunshine

Photo Credit: Christine Hibbard via flickr

“It shouldn’t happen,” my neighbor called when he passed by my house on his way home from work late last night as I shoveled out from under the 9+ inches of snow we had gotten during the day.

I laughed, nodded my head, and went back to shoveling.

I couldn’t help but wonder though: Was he talking about the fact that we had just gotten the biggest snowfall of the year in March, when the worst of winter should be over? Or was he talking about something else? Something bigger?

It shouldn’t happen.

Was he talking about the bizarre weather trend that brought a warmer-than-usual December and a colder-than-usual March? Or was he talking about the fact that he lost his wife of more than 40 years last summer when they were only months away from living out their retirement dream in Florida?

It shouldn’t happen.

Was he talking about the back-to-back snowstorms that had pummeled the area in the past week? Or was he talking about the heartbreak, the loneliness, the desperate void?

It shouldn’t happen.

Was he talking about the messy inconvenience of trudging through mountains of snow? Or was he talking about the muddled, unpredictable, tangled mess of life’s twists and turns and tragedies?

It shouldn’t happen.

Storms shouldn’t happen. Hurt shouldn’t happen. Loss shouldn’t happen. Hunger, discrimination, illness shouldn’t happen. Heartbreak, seclusion, sadness shouldn’t happen. Bigotry, hypocrisy, injustice shouldn’t happen.

None of it should happen. Except that it does happen. And sometimes it just doesn’t make sense. The hardship is unreasonable; we are asked to endure too much. The scope of the task is too great; we cannot possibly carry on. The practicality of the situation defies logic; we don’t understand where we are or what is going on.

It shouldn’t happen. It doesn’t make sense. It is hard to believe that this – this! – is happening and we stand, immobilized and trembling, with our head in our hands wondering what?, why?, how?

It is all so hard to believe. So much shouldn’t happen, so much just doesn’t make sense. Sorrow shouldn’t happen; we don’t deserve it. Misery shouldn’t happen; it is more than we can bear. Miracles shouldn’t happen; they are more than we can hope for. Blizzards raging in March shouldn’t happen; they contradict meteorological norms and we have already suffered enough. Flowers blossoming in November shouldn’t happen; they contradict agricultural norms and we have already been given so much.

Some things are hard to believe. Some things just don’t make sense. Some things just shouldn’t happen.

But they do happen. Misfortune and grief happens. Agony and desperation happens. Unexpected joy and miraculous grace happens. Unconditional love and extraordinary kindness happens. Snowstorms happen in March and warm sunshine happens in November.

And I suppose all we can do is shovel each other’s sidewalks and wait for that sunny day when we can bask in the warmth of the sun’s rays, together.

“We’re all just walking each other home.” – Ram Dass

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