Clean Sidewalks, Clean Starts


This morning, I watched one of my friends on the maintenance crew wash some of the garbage and debris from the sidewalk in front of the New York Catholic Center. I was reminded of when I first started working in Manhattan and saw other maintenance people doing the same thing all over town.  I asked myself then, “Why are they watering the sidewalks?”


A suburban girl, I was only used to seeing people use water hoses for plants and grass.  So to see men spraying water onto the concrete was a new sight for me.  When I asked my husband that question back then, after he stopped laughing, he told me that they were not watering the sidewalk—they were cleaning it. 


I was remembering that today and thinking about how sometimes in our life we see things or experience things that do not make much sense to us—at first.  I find this is especially true when it comes to my spiritual journey.  I often ask myself “Why would God do this to me?” or “Why does God allow this to happen?”  The answers aren’t always clear.  But sometimes, days, weeks, or even months later, I look back at those things that made me question God and find that I have learned an important lesson from the experience.


Let me give you just one example.  Eight years ago, I was diagnosed with a stomach condition that makes it difficult to eat many foods.  For a long time, I questioned why God would allow this to happen to me.  Now, I come to see this condition as a blessing because it allows me to understand the sacrifice and suffering of others who are forced to give things up in their life—whether it is food, or drinking alcohol, or shopping, because of addictions or sicknesses.


In a way, God was cleaning my soul for me, just like the people who clean the sidewalks.  He was getting rid of something in my life, yes, but it was something unimportant in the larger scheme of things so He could make room in my soul for other gifts. 


What do you think?  Have you had a similar experience where you have questioned God and later realized why?  Please share as it may help other readers. 


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