The Spirituality of Roof Damage

Joy ice damBack in February, the giant ice dams on the roof slid off without warning at 3 am. They tore the entire front gutter off the roof. The weight of both together then ripped off a small roof over the front door, which then cracked through the 80-year-old cement front stoop. The impact of it all caused the house to shake so hard that pictures fell off shelves.

Several of our neighbors had similar but not as dramatic ice dam stories. We were extra frustrated because we had done most everything right — cleaned the gutters in the fall, put on a new roof with a fancy leak protector just a year ago.

The reactions we got from visitors and neighbors were incredibly eye-opening. Almost every person had some word of advice for us, even though they didn’t know how hard we had tried to prevent this:

“You should have hired someone to shovel your roof.”

“Aren’t your gutters old? Hummm.”

“You needed those heat strips.”

“Why don’t you put more insulation in your attic?”

Of course I smiled and answered each person nicely. But inside I was peeved that they didn’t just sympathize with our situation. Frankly, I believe they were subconsciously trying to justify why this couldn’t happen to them. How do I know this? Because when my own sister’s gutters fell off the week before, I said to my spouse, “I bet they had clogged gutters.”

It must be human nature to want to find a way to explain to ourselves why bad things happen to others, but we have control over them not happening to ourselves. The spirituality of our roof situation was an opportunity for me to affirm my deeper belief that ultimately there is no safety on the material plane.

As the innocent questions poured in that obliquely implied we had brought this on ourselves, I winced remembering the leading questions I’ve asked others in the past. I hate to admit this, but I’m sure I’ve done more than my share of innocent questioning when people have had issues with children, health, or finances.

In Wellspring we learn the power of deep listening — not advising or fixing when bad things happen to others. When we give advice, yes, we are trying to be helpful. But really, we’re also trying to explain why this couldn’t happen to us. And this isn’t healing to anyone.

Now, anyone know a good gutter guy?

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