Despite the blustery temps, there are chores to be done: cows and chickens to feed, horse stalls to muck, dogs to let out. Okay, that might just be our country neighbors, but there are things we must do as winter settles in the Midwest: storm windows to check, fallen tree limbs to drag to the burn pile, and snow to be shoveled.
Our kids stomp through the new snow, making footprints in the fresh coating from last night’s storm. They play for a few minutes, but there is work to be done. Each grabs a shovel and begins the task of moving snow, heavier than it seems it should be. Though their efforts are great, they actually accomplish very little – it is dad who completes the task. But we ask them to stay, to be a part of the process, watching, imitating, and understanding why this chore must be done. And it must be done again tomorrow, most likely.
It is in the discipline of taking responsibility for tasks that they learn much. Little hands make little dents in jobs like snow shoveling or stick gathering, but simply enduring and enjoying the strenuous, often uncomfortable activity, makes them stronger.
The truth is, another storm is coming and there will be more snow to shovel tomorrow. And just like repeating the process of shoveling snow, we learn to repeat the process of serving others in our community. There is always another who needs a meal, who needs a hand, who needs a prayer. And then we must be ready to repeat the task tomorrow.
They charge up the hill once the snow is shoveled, tiny footprints in a blanket of white, and “I have no greater joy than to [see] that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 1:4)