Despite the fact that I haven't had to do it nearly as often this summer as I usually do, I've been putting it off for weeks. It's just been too hot and it hasn't been at the top of my list. But I had the time this afternoon, so me and my push mower headed out for some quality bonding time. Lots of quality bonding time--our yard is huge! It didn't take long until I was dripping with sweat, but it was just a short time past that when I realized I wasn't hating the mowing. I was cranking my ipod (which was also counting my steps-- 11,000 of them to be exact) and the music that I love but never seem to get a chance to hear was making me smile. I even got caught up on the "This I Believe" podcasts that I cherish so much. I was thinking and daydreaming, and while it wasn't as much fun as curling up with a great book, the hours out there were mine. Time for me, cleverly couched as productivity.
I finally took the plunge and mowed down what I had considered to be a garden. At the beginning of the summer, before we had our own personal drought, the area around my sidewalks had all sorts of pretty flowers. But when it got so dry, the only thing that would grow was weeds. So I mowed them down, and its lost potential only broke my heart a little bit. But I guess that's redeeming too, because now I have a brand new space if I want to plant beautiful fall flowers.
Tired and sweaty though I am, I'm a happier person. Not just because the dreaded chore is finally over, or because my yard is finally presentable again, but maybe just because of the work itself. When I was a teenager, I always wanted to mow the yard, but dad would never let me. I thought it was because he was worried about my safety--as if I might fall off the riding mower or something. But now I understand what he meant when he said "That's the only place where I can make order out of chaos." There's something meditative about mowing.
I wouldn't go so far as to say that I saw God while pushing a mower, but there's something in me that feels just a little freer from having spent the time working so closely with God's creation.
"Graceland" is the name of my favorite song and album. It's by Paul Simon, but more importantly, it's what "home" sounds and feels like to me. We always listened to this album as we traveled from my home in Tennessee to my parents' childhood homes in Florida. But today, it's also a pretty good snapshot of my theology. Somewhere I really believe that the Christian journey is all about a wild trip to Grace-land. As I see it, Grace-land is the place where God is waiting to meet even us–with all the baggage and brokeness that we tote with us. Grace-land is the place where we will be received with open arms, even though our attempts at “getting it right” have been miserable failures at best. But, I think, every step we take is a step on the journey to Graceland.