Mowing grass has become my preferred way to relax. Some people think that mowing grass is a boring, tiring and sweat-laden chore, but I have come to see that mowing grass can be a great way to connect to life in a number of ways.
All I have to do is start my mower and start to cut and I instantly connect with my childhood. Back in the days when gas was 65 cents per gallon, my dad made me an offer that I couldn’t refuse. Instead of giving me an allowance, he offered to let me use the family push mower to mow yards in the neighborhood to make money. As a bonus, he promised to supply me with all the gasoline and oil I would need and all I had to do was mow the family yard free of charge. Learning how to sell myself to others and how to be an entrepreneur were not what I thought I was doing, I just wanted to earn a little spending money.
I trolled the neighborhood, knocking on doors and offering my mowing services to anyone who would open their door. In just a few days, I had seven yards to mow at $5.00 per yard, with the exception of the big yard on the corner where the guy that owned it paid me a whole $10.00 because he thought it was worth more than just $5.00.
Making $35.00 per week doesn’t sound like a lot now, but for a 13 year old kid it was like winning the lottery. The fact that it came with a lot of sweat wasn’t a lot of fun, but ultimately I realized that my father had given me much more than an allowance. He had given me the opportunity to become self-reliant. If only he had also taught me to save my money rather than spend it, I’d probably be a millionaire.
When I mow grass, I connect with myself. Listening to the dull roar of the twenty-one horsepower Briggs and Stratton engine under the hood of my mower, I escape to a world within my head. Thinking about life, tomorrow’s work, last week’s mistakes I am able to review them all without interruption and I get to wish, imagine or dream for as long as there is grass left to mow.
While mowing, I connect to nature. From the smell of the spruce tree when I cut really close to it, to stopping in the shade of the pecan tree at the back corner of our lot to take a swig of water from the water bottle that I keep in the cup holder on my Craftsman riding mower I am reminded of nature at every turn. I know exactly where the limbs on the old oak tree hang so low that I must lift them so I can pass under without knocking off my straw hat. At the same time, I am aware of the different creatures that live within the boundaries of my yard and am even manage to feel a little guilty about the crickets disturbed by my mower unfortunately eaten by the robin that follows me as I make my laps. I do not feel guilty about the fire ants I run over. I know I’m being selectively moral, but I still can’t help hating fire ants.
When I mow my grass, I connect with the land. I know the roots that have grown large enough to stop my mower cold, because I’ve hit all of them more than once. I know just how far to straddle the small ditch that crosses my property and when to pull out before I get stuck because I’ve been stuck in that spot before. I know where all the rows from gardens planted in the past are and I know to back off on the speed so that I can stay in my seat as I pass over those areas.
When I find an old brick or an old bottle, I’m connected to history and I can’t help but wonder about all the people who have walked in this place before me. I wonder if they thought about the same types of things I do, and I know that they cared about this place as much as I do.
More importantly, when I mow my yard, I connect with my God and in spite of the roar of the motor, I am able to be still and listen to that quiet voice that speaks to my soul, forgives my transgressions and points me toward newly opened doors in my life. Blessings often come in small packages, but sometimes the small ones are the most important. For all around me I am wrapped in the steamy heat of the deep South under a bright blue sky and all is right with the world.
Today, as I made the turn under the oak with the droopy limbs, I saw a terrorist running through my neighbor’s back yard. He was dressed in camouflage with a facemask and a very strange looking and big gun. At least that’s what I thought for a few seconds in this post-9/11 world we now live in. Then I realized it was just my neighbor having a paint-ball war with a friend.
But as I continued to mow my grass, the sight set me to thinking about terrorists and I realized that all the terrorists I’ve ever heard of come from countries that are mostly deserts. Maybe that’s the problem, they have no grass to mow. I’m betting that if they did, there would be a lot fewer suicide bombers because they could connect the same way that I get to. Maybe the government should take bio-warfare research in a new direction and figure out a way to create a grass seed that will grow really fast in sand, direct sun, with very little water. Then we could bomb these countries with grass seed. Then after a few weeks, we could send over a boatload of Craftsman, John Deere, and Cub Cadet lawn tractors. Who knows, maybe with all the terrorists mowing grass they won’t have time to think up new ways to terrorize the world.