Sweeping up leaves in the wind

There are stories in religious life circles - mostly emanating from pre-Vatican II - of novices being set apparently pointless tasks. The tasks might have involved something illogical or seemingly unnecessary, just as army recruits must chafe at regulations and endless kit inspections. Admittedly, some of the stories might be apocryphal: the sisters I know who had old-time novitiates would say their superiors were more concerned with the washing up or cleaning being done promptly and properly, than with making them water dead plants... but still the stories are burned into a collective religious subconscious. And someone, somewhere, must have experienced one of the better known pointless tasks - sweeping up leaves on a windy day; something which would make even Sisyphus weep.

I thought of this when I came across this little video via Twitter, of a zoo keeper's attempts at sweeping up leaves being thwarted by some playful panda cubs. I wonder about the backstory. The young woman clearly knows the pandas - she and they are comfortable with each other - so this isn't a joke at the expense of a brand-new member of the team. Had she tried this sort of thing before? Or was this her first time, and she'd naively assumed the task would be easily accomplished? And did someone, somewhere, think it would be a good idea to send this keeper into the leaf-strewn, cub-filled enclosure, armed only with a flimsy broom, a pan and a small, uncovered basket...?

It's Friday evening. Whether your week has been full of achievement... or not... whether you feel you've made a difference... or not... if your tasks have felt futile or pointless, or your plans been thwarted... if you have been trying to do something as impossible as sweeping leaves in today's strong winds... I hope you can sit back and relax long enough to enjoy this little video, and join me in saluting the perseverance of this very determined young woman...


  1. Dear Silvana, thank you SO MUCH for sharing this video. I have had a really horrible week/month/summer, feeling that so much of what I do is pointless. Watching this young woman wrangle these pandas, with no fear, and laughing throughout, was a wonderful break and lesson. Thank you!!

  2. Thank you for letting me know - I'm so glad to know the video had this positive effect on you! And I hope life, and whatever you're doing, starts to feel less pointless in general too.

  3. Wonderful lesson in patience during this pandemic. Thx so much, Dana


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