Digging Yourself Out

Stephen - Ashtabula, Ohio
Entered on March 24, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

Standing knee deep in snow, somewhere in the general vicinity of where my sidewalk used to be, I found myself doubting some personal beliefs. First, I seriously doubted my belief that moving back to northeast Ohio winters was the right decision. Digging in, I was sure I didn’t believe that winter was a wonderland. Lost in a sea frozen precipitation and questionable beliefs, I turned my thoughts to something I was sure I believed in. I believe in shovels.

Yes, shovels. I believe in every aspect of their name and uses, both literal and otherwise. Four feet of sturdy timber, attached at the business end to a thin but rigid piece of tempered steel. The handle worn and rough, splinters eagerly awaiting a bare-handed grip. The blade chipped and nicked, proudly bearing the battle scars of wars waged against dirt, rock, and sand. Look in every garage and tool shed, in the beds of trucks, and on every farm, in the hands of doctors, lawyers, and construction workers alike- somewhere, there’s a shovel.

Shovels have become woven into the fabric of everyday life. At the heart of every church, there’s a shovel. While the spirit of the church is built on faith and traditions, the church itself is built upon foundations dug deep into the earth by people and their shovels. When the weather turns bad and the sidewalks are snow and slush covered, a trusty shovel stands by, ready to clear a path for the Sunday worshipers. Oh, churches have entertained the idea of replacing their shovels with other tools, but it never works out. A flimsy broom is no match for the heavy wet snow, and rakes are horrible at digging. They always come back to the shovel.

Even the government would be lost without the likes of the shovel. Ask any soldier, past or present, what tools they bring to battle with them. While the rifle brings the fight, the shovel digs its way across the battlefield, creating trenches and foxholes so soldiers may wage battle from the safety of cover. And let us not forget state government employees, for as the saying stipulates, no government job would be complete without several employees standing around, leaning on shovels with one guy working. Sure, they could lean upon other tools, but leaning on a jackhammer makes you look like your working, and the sledge hammer is to way too short to be an efficient leaning post.

But the shovel I believe in most, is the proverbial shovel. Standing there, in all of its imaginary glory, the proverbial shovel is always ready to dig us out of trouble. Sometimes we have to use one on ourselves, to try and uncover the better part of us. While other times you find when you need one, it’s never within your own reach. However, I’ve learned that if I just wait patiently, someone always seems to show up, just in time, shovels in hand. Between the two of us, we always seem to dig out of whatever hole I’ve trapped myself in. As in the same, I try and stand by waiting, proverbial shovels in sight, just incase someone I know should find themselves caught in a hole way over their head.

As I cleared the last shovelful of snow from my walk, I paused to reflect on my thoughts. Thank God for good friends, and thank God for shovels, for without them both, we may never be able to dig ourselves out.