For most people, mowing the lawn is merely a task to be done. For me, it’s a spiritual journey.
Being one of those geeky, pseudo-intellectual folks, I like to find life-lesson metaphors in everything I do. Few tasks offer such a metaphorical gold mine as mowing the lawn. Perhaps it makes me a mowing guru, as I find insight in that hour of uninterrupted time focusing just on where I’m going and why.
For the first time in a month, I mowed my lawn Saturday. As we all know, it’s been dry in Ohio this summer, and frankly the grass just hasn’t needed it. But perhaps my soul did.
•I mow not because the whole yard needs it but because parts need it.
Mowing isn’t just about cutting the grass all to the same height. It’s about cleaning up the messes in the yard, whether they’re weeds or recycled food left behind by the dogs.
In my life, I recognize many parts of my life are going extraordinarily well. Still, I can’t look at those patches that seem to be fine and assume the whole thing is maintained just as it should be. There are bound to be patches needing some cleanup.
•It’s hardest to see where you’re going and where you’ve been in the most desolate patches.
It’s easy to keep track of your mowing path when the grass is taller. You just look for the next tall patch of grass. But when the grass is shorter and browner, it’s harder to maintain your path. You’re best to try to find something to help guide your way.
In life too, I find myself going over the same territory over and over. About halfway through, I realize I’ve already been through this before, and I just hope the next time I come upon that area, I’ll be wise enough not to fall into the same, incorrect path. Believing in something helps pull you through those dead patches of life.
•Tending to just one part of the yard only makes the rest seem worse.
My wife has a wonderful vegetable garden at the back of our property, full of ripening tomatoes, zucchinis, peppers and other tasty treats. She worked hard to keep it watered and weeded throughout the summer so it could sprout as it has. Aside from one patch of grass near the garden where the children accidentally left the hose on overnight, little effort has been put into the rest of the lawn. It shows, as only weeds pop forth in those other spots.
Balance really is important in anything we do. I’ve led an unbalanced life in the last few weeks, dedicating nearly twice as much time to my employer as I normally would as I filled in multiple positions in the newsroom. What should be filling that time — my relationship with my wife and children — wilted under that heat. Whatever it takes, I must find a way to tend to that family garden, as the rewards there are so much sweeter.
•Weeds grow right next to the most thriving plants.
I couldn’t help but notice how tall the weeds were just outside our garden. Some stood 2 or 3 feet high, stealing nutrients and water away from the plant life inside the garden.
We all have weeds-filled relationships in our lives. There are prickly personalities that do nothing more than try to steal the joy from our activities. It’s important to remember each of us has the ability to cut down those unwanted distractions before they choke off what makes us special.
•It’s easier to mow when you have help.
Our lawn isn’t monstrous, but it used to take an hour to mow it each week with a push mower. Not too long ago, my father-in-law sold us his riding mower. Now the chore isn’t so difficult.
The chore of life doesn’t have to be a lonely, frustrating experience. There are always people willing and able to help you along. All you have to do is open your heart to them, and they’ll be there. This is where I know I’m luckiest of all, as I’m blessed with a wonderful wife, children and relationship with God.
My neighbors may have found it silly to see me mowing all over the yard Saturday to tend to a few patches needing attention. I assure you, the yard needed it almost as much as I did.