Sunday, March 15, 2009

Raking Leaves

My left hand still hurts today. There is a bruise in the skin between my left thumb and first finger from raking leaves the other night. But it's not a bad hurt. It's a good one.

There were just four of us for dinner that night-- Hunk O Man, Bug, Baby and I, and Hunk O Man had a meeting. The other three girls were at a tennis match. So we ate early -- as we never do (we are very european in the way we eat dinner -- as in LATE). By 5:30PM, we were finished, and I went outside.

As Hunk O man left for his meeting, he noticed a rake I'd left by the porch doorway. He asked if someone had been raking, and I answered that yes, as a matter of fact, I had. I had used the rake to put down some mint plants that a friend had dropped by, that I hope will grow around the edge of our covered porch.

So I headed outside with him, and as he left, I grabbed the rake and went at the yard, which was covered in leaves.

It didn't take long before I had a huge pile of leaves, and wondered where I would put them. I decided on the little hillside past the trees, but not so far down as to block the entrance to the shed.

Raking is a mindless business, for the most part. The air was cool, but not cold, and my mind wandered as I heaped huge piles and then proceeded to pull them apart and move them downhill.

I thought about what Hunk O Man would say when he saw the piles of leaves. I could hear him praising my efforts and pointing them out to the girls, who would look at me and ask why I had done it, and I would reply that I wasn't afraid of a little hard work and neither should they be. It would be a wonderful teaching moment and they would respond by raking the entire front yard.
They would remember this all their lives and teach their children about how raking is good for you and generations to come would praise me, the first one who did it, and talk about how a little hard work never hurt anybody.

Uh-huh. I absolutely did think that.

Then I realised that I had been thinking all about me, me, me. I should have been praying for someone else while doing this mindless work! Yes, I should have been doing some other noble thinking task.

So I thought about Constance Marie, for whose daughter I had made some little gaucho pants, and how Constance Marie was so picky about the pockets, and how her daughter had cared less, and Constance Marie should just lighten up; good grief, was I that fixated on the mindless when I was a young mom? And how Constance Marie was going to pay me for making these pants and a few more pairs, and how she'd been so specific about how to make her oldest daughter's -- no poofy pockets or a lot of gathering in the front, please, and how these pants were being made out of my fabric from my stash and the amount she'd proposed to pay me was a little ridiculous, considering it was my fabric and time.

The day was grey, and it seemed like a very long time before it got dark.

And I kept at it. About the time I thought that some of the leaves should go back behind the shed, God got a word in edgewise.

I realised that I shouldn't charge Constance Marie anything at all for the pants. Good grief, had people not been generous enough with me? What about if I just made the pants, gave them to her, and told her that at some point in the future, she'll be called to be generous. So be very generous and remember this, how I am generous to you.

And isn't raking the leaves its own reward, really?

I finished up, and looked over at the side yard by the fence. That needed it, too. I could hear my neighbor talking on the phone in her screened porch.

I thought about why I'd never made a some lemon squares and taken them over to just sit and chat with her.

I thought about how I should call and check in with Myrtle once a week.

I listened a little more. And I made a couple more piles of leaves.

It was finally getting dark. I laughed to myself that neither of the girls had come out to check on me, or just out of curiousity. Not even the dog came to the door and whined to come out with me.

It was just me and God and the leaves. One of those moments of holiness when work and listening collide, and God gets through, and you breathe in the cool air and thank Him that you have a bruise on your hand now from raking. And you say thanks, Lord, for interrupting me and my ridiculously small thinking.

Thank you for lifting my chin and making me look up, Lord. Thank you.

I put the rake away and came inside. Amen.


1 Comment:

Debbie said...

What a wonderful post. I just love how you challenge us to be more mindful in our lives.