Shoveling with St. Francis

Pine tree with bent topWinter arrived in Omaha this week. We don’t have as much snow as Buffalo or Boston or Bangor, but we have what I consider to be our share. It came on Saturday, canceling church on Sunday, and it came again today, Wednesday, causing another snow day.

It came mostly today after Steve left for work, and if I was going to get out I would have to shovel. My small snowblower is busted and Steve’s is too big for me to handle, so the shovel would have to be my tool.

I was facing another 4” in our lengthy driveway, and thought if I could just shovel the top part I could make it out to the office.


Two hours later I am back in the living room, boots off, jean bottoms soggy with melting snow and a pulled muscle in my left arm. No getting out today.

And the thing is, I went out to do the task in the darkest of moods. More snow? Sheesh! Can’t winter which just arrived on Saturday be over already?

When it was just Jana and me on Chicago Street, we had an equally long driveway, front stoop and stairs and miles of sidewalk to clear as we lived on a corner. And once my dad got that snowblower for me, I would head out and clear it all, even doing the whole west sidewalk to the next block! Steve and I have made a great team here on Happy Hollow Boulevard with our his-and-hers snowblowers, but mine is twenty years old and out of commission. I knew the shoveling would be hard, and it was. I am older now and don’t have the strength. My weakness makes me mad and grumbly.

So I knew it would be rough, but amazingly, there was this blessing of quiet time where all the cares of the world just rolled off my shoulders.

Without the noise of the gas engine turning the turbine of the blower, there was the sound of the wind in the pine trees, which reach to the sky. And the sky was this beautiful shade of pale grey blue as the clouds were dissipating. The sound of the wind in those tall graceful trees was like music.

And that’s when I realized there was music, too.

“All creatures of our God and king. Lift up your voice and with us sing. Alleluia! Alleluia!”

Dundee Church towerThe carillon at Dundee Presbyterian Church was playing this wonderful old hymn, written by my favorite saint, Francis.

“Let all things their Creator bless,
And worship Him in humbleness,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit, Three in One!”

And I just sang along as I shoveled, the trees keeping a rhythm with the gentle blowing of the wind. It was a moment of worship. And I took the time to pray a prayer of gratitude and thanksgiving for turning my grumbling heart to joyful praise.

I came inside, arm hurting, soggy jeans and all, to look up the story of St. Francis’ glorious hymn. And what I discovered is that he was paraphrasing Psalm 148, which begins this way:

Praise the Lord!
 Praise the Lord from the heavens; 
praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels;
 praise him, all his host!

And down a bit further in verses 7 and 8, after the psalmist has exhorted sun and moon and stars and so much of the rest of creation to praise God, he says this:

Praise the Lord from the earth,
 you sea monsters and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command!

Snow and frost and stormy wind: Praise the Lord!

Julie B. with pulled muscle and soggy jeans: Praise the Lord!

How could I not? And so I do!

Alleluia! Alleluia!


2 thoughts on “Shoveling with St. Francis

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