Wednesday, August 5, 2009


The landscaping in my neighborhood is fairly nice, and people are proud of their curbside appearances. But every August as I walk around, it seems that many properties start to take on a disheveled appearance. Stray overgrown branches stick out of formerly-perfectly-round bushes. Fried bulb shoots that should have been removed remain in place. Grass sneaks into the garden sections.

This week I am really focusing on my home because I have a houseguest coming. As the day approaches, I see my home more and more through a visitor’s eyes. I walk up the approach to my home critiquing: Is it manicured? Is it welcoming? and I realize, to my horror, that I have really let things go this summer.

It was a good day for yard work yesterday, sunny but not too hot, so I set about early in the morning weeding the front gardens, trimming bushes, and transplanting marigolds to the sides of the driveway. I looked at the cable that lay across my lawn; the wireless installation people had said they would be back to bury it. I worried that my husband might run over it and decided to mow the lawn myself.

I had to move the cable several times, each time marking its position with red toy bowling pins so I didn’t make a mistake when my brain went into auto play. When it was done, I was proud of my 45-degree angle cut. It really only took four hours to restore the front lawn and gardens to a presentable look, because most of my gardens are low-maintenance.

If I was superwoman I would weed the vegetable garden in the back, but now it looks like I should just let my husband mow over it. The raised beds are still looking okay, so I will put weeding them on my to-do list for the week.

While working in silence (the kids were playing inside), I thought about all the other areas of our lives that need maintenance. Friendships, family relationships, intellectual life, emotional life, spiritual life, physical fitness, health and nutrition. All the above require tending to on a daily basis. Skip a day here or there and your body/friends/brain will forgive you. Keep letting it slide and you get to a point where it seems like an impossible task to get back to where you were.

I was looking for the Gospel parable in which the sower throws his seeds where the weeds choke them out. But I came across this little-known passage that compares one’s spiritual well-being to farming, along with the results of going the wrong way.

Job Chapter 31 (NAB)
But what is man's lot from God above, his inheritance from the Almighty on high?
Is it not calamity for the unrighteous, and woe for evildoers?
Does he not see my ways, and number all my steps?
Let God weigh me in the scales of justice; thus will he know my innocence!
If I have walked in falsehood and my foot has hastened to deceit;
If my steps have turned out of the way, and my heart has followed my eyes, or any stain clings to my hands,
Then may I sow, but another eat of it, or may my planting be rooted up!
If my land has cried out against me till its very furrows complained;
If I have eaten its produce without payment and grieved the hearts of its tenants;
Then let the thistles grow instead of wheat and noxious weeds instead of barley!

Lord grant me the grace and foresight to keep all the areas of my life, especially the spiritual one, well maintained.

Painting: “The Sower with Setting Sun“, 1888, Vincent Van Gogh


Loren Christie said...

Thoughtful post! I think that when you aim for deeping your spiritual growth then all of these other areas that need maintenance are uncovered as well.

Yardworkerz said...

I learned two lessons from your post. First, the lessons about the changing of seasons. Seasons such as winter, spring, summer and fall teach us that life is not always sadness, but joyful too. Second, when we expect guests to come upon our lives, we are forced to clean whatever is unpleasant in our attitudes and behaviors. And that guests is Jesus Christ.