Inspired by and adapted from blog On Assignment by Edwin Friesen
Most Canadians take little joy in shoveling the snow off of our driveways and sidewalks in winter. It’s a task we do because we must. However, this mundane winter chore proved a catalyst for ongoing generosity in one Calgary neighbourhood.
No Way Out
The expectant mom sat in her car, gripping the steering wheel and trying not to cry while her toddler wailed in the back seat. They were new to the neighbourhood, and with her husband out of town it had already been a long week of cold weather. And now this! A combination of heavy snowfall, temperature shifts, and city ploughing had left a bumper-high wall of hard-packed snow completely blocking the driveway. The car couldn’t make it over, and her best effort at shoveling had barely made a dent in the ice. She was completely stuck.
Overnight, a group of neighbours carefully removed all the ice and snow from the family’s driveway. It must have taken hours. What a blessing to a housebound mom! The next snowfall, she paid it forward. The snowfall after that, their next-door neighbours did the same. And on and on. Today, most of the families on that block shovel a bit extra after each snowfall, taking turns helping one another out. It started with one anonymous act of generosity, but soon became the norm. Kindness cascades.
Edwin Friesen once observed that spontaneous acts of generosity from unexpected persons towards others are a wonderful reflection of the love of Jesus. Reflecting on several examples from Scripture, he wrote, “It seemed that wherever Jesus went, he received and lavished spontaneous acts of kindness.” For Christians, spontaneous generosity is more than just kindness – it’s an expression of faith with deep Biblical roots. Spontaneous generosity can be as small as a compliment or as large as a new car. The possibilities are endless.
Several months of winter weather lie ahead of us. Before we know it, driveways and sidewalks will need to be cleared again. Won’t you grab a shovel and walk a few extra steps to start a kindness cascade in your neighbourhood?
Do you have a story of spontaneous generosity? Perhaps you gave or received an unexpected blessing? We’d love to hear from you.