View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Gratitude for Yard Work

Yesterday was a lovely day - time for yard work.

I dug a few holes for plantings, replanted a rose bush, dug out and moved some large rocks (we're working on a rock garden shrine), moved an old arbor that had broken in the last couple of wind storms, and mowed.

I'm not one of those methodical mowers - you know, straight lines, section by section. Nothing wrong with that, but I mow where the spirit moves me. I move back and forth between sections, cut in straight lines, change directions and instead of going from side to side go from front to back, circle round the trees and keep expanding those circles, or even create square sections in the middle of the lawn and cut around the edges of the squares moving inward as in a maze.

Maybe some lawn expert will tell me I'm doing it wrong, I'm not following the guidelines. Or that esthetically I should mow in straight lines in a single neat patern, creating a manicured look. Unless I find out I'm harming the lawn, though - beyond, of course slashing living grass with a whirling blade! - I will continue my eclectic ways.

Why does this remind me of music?

As part of my weaving and moving about as I mow, I take care near the bird feeders and a couple of spots where birds are trying to nest. There's one birdhouse next to our little Mary shrine where a new couple has moved in. They kept bouncing about in the bushes yesterday, trying to draw me away from the house. I try to get those areas done quickly so that I cut down on disturbing the birds. Yesterday as I turned off the mower for a moment and moved some debris I found myself talking to the birds, reassuring them that I would be gone soon. I wondered if the neighbors overheard me and if they did what they thought!

I like to mow. No riding mower for me. I have to push the beast. Just as I refuse to get a weed whacker. Do it by hand!

I like to dig. There's a certain strange satisfaction in creating a hole, watching it grow, cleaning it out. Or getting down deep enough that I can finally remove that large rock. And I enjoy the sheer physicality of it - the same way I enjoy shoveling snow off the driveway (despite my wife's constant fretting that I might give myself a heart attack and suggestions I should get a snow blower or hire a plow service. Hire someone else to do what I enjoy!? Would I hire someone to read Chesterton or play my guitar?)

I also find it's a good time to pray. I find myself constantly thanking God for the blooms in the garden and on the bushes. I find myself thanking God for all the birds and even the squirrels at our feeders. I find myself thanking God for the neighbor's dogs barking and guarding their yard even as they wag their tails, because, after, it is just me, the guy who pets them regularly. I thank God for the glorious variety added by dandelions and other so-called weeds that some folks seem obsessed with eradicating with toxic chemicals. I find myself thinking grateful thoughts about my wife for all the work she has done to create the flower beds, plant the bushes, and keep the birds fed.

And I thank God that I'm still young enough and healthy enough to do these things. Maybe some day the ailments of age will force me to cut back, but for now, Thank you Lord.

And when I do have to cut back, I'll find other ways to thank God. Like do the dishes.


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