Service – dienstbaarheid

We had a lot of snow (20-25 cm) on Sunday night. Thinking I was smart, I’d left my car at a friend’s house in the village. I’d driven home slowly from a cluster reflection meeting due to a very dodgy exhaust which had already required AA assistance that day. I just didn’t want to risk the potholed road home, so my friend gave me a lift. And then it snowed…….


I stayed home yesterday, but couldn’t do that today. I really needed to get this exhaust sorted, go to a meeting at 9 am and stock up on some supplies. So, an early morning lift from my neighbour meant I started digging my car out at 7.30 am. It wasn’t parked that far on the drive, but still… took me 1.5 hours to clear it.  By that time there was no point going to the meeting which was an hour away (assuming clear roads and good weather). So, I decided to go to the garage, do some shopping, and popped back to my friend afterwards to clear more snow from her drive.

My friend S. is great, but she is 70 years old, and clearing a sloping drive of 20 cm of snow is heavy duty. She had done the area where her car was parked, but was about to give up when I came. So, 2 hours later the drive was clear and she could park her car at the bottom.

She mentioned that no one has ever helped her do this since her husband died 6 years ago. And that as a child, her parents made her go round the neighbours to see if anyone needed any help. Now, I don’t get this. She is a lovely warm woman, has neighbours (left, right, and opposite – all younger than her), and has been living here for 14 years.

Loss of community feeling? Or is everybody already fed up after clearing their own drive and doesn’t think of helping others? I really don’t get it – maybe I’m too Dutch.

True, I wasn’t planning on spending most of my day shoveling snow, but I couldn’t leave my friend, knowing that she wasn’t mobile with her car stuck in the snow.

I suppose for me it was just doing what felt right and being aware of the Baha’i Writings which tell us that  ‘Service is prayer’.

So, achy shoulders aside, I had a very prayerful day I suppose. But if anyone can enlighten me on why neighbours can ignore the physical need of an elderly neighbour, I’d be grateful. Meanwhile, I’ll just hope for not too much snow…..


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