We live in a quiet, older neighborhood with unique homes and carefully maintained lawns. One neighbor uses--I’m sure I saw this--a nail clipper to trim around his sidewalk. Many employ chemical specialists to kill what should be killed and nourish what needs to be nourished. And everybody waters religiously.
Our next door neighbor, a man of infinite optimism, owns every tool known to man AND he is eager to loan them and/or come over to play. Need a pole tree trimmer? Got it. Got three. How about a 27-foot manual pole saw? Sure. He’s got a shorter one AND a taller one. Need an alligator lopper? Doesn’t everyone? Here he comes, all smiles. He LOVES to lop.
For years, I have paid one of his teenagers to mow down the acre of grass that is ours. More than a few times, I’ve spied the dad, riding on one of his toys, sucking up grass clippings with another toy, zipping up and down our sidewalks with a digital, state-of-the-art edging tool.
When it comes to the yard, we are the mutts of the neighborhood. Somewhere in our liberal arts background, neither of us ever got the hang of lawn maintenance. We would make occasional half-hearted efforts, relying on what we learned from TV or a salesman at a lawn shop.
One such effort is called the MONSTER TAKES OVER episode. Frustrated by weeds in rather sad landscaping, I went with my mother’s suggestion. (We always blame moms, don’t we?) She was relocating to Florida from Michigan and said, “I have this wonderful ground cover. You just put a few sprigs in and it will fill in everywhere. It’s so easy (MAGIC WORD); you don’t have to do anything (MORE MAGIC); it doesn’t need to be watered. (BRILLIANT) "
Its friendly name is Snow-on-the-Mountain. I took a few sprigs home, plopped them in the ground and marveled, first that I did not kill them. Then in the spring, they came up again and spread a bit. Same thing next spring and on and on until the entire circle under our blue spruce was filled with the variegated ground cover. I foolishly figured that it had no where else to go and so was done. WRONG. It took on a life of its own, twining up the spruce until it choked it. Then it headed for the rest of the shrubbery. Then, it jumped over the edging and began to eat the grass.
I got frantic because even with my contacts out, I could see I had a mess on my hands. I employed a local green house to rip rip rip it out and plant some nice things to take its place. Alas, even through heavy mulch, little sprigs kept popping through. “You may need to go at it again with Roundup.” Understatement. The monster did not want to die. What a sturdy little plant.
I used to say that after a nuclear attack, we’ll still have rats and cockroaches. I add Snow-on-the-Mountain. And those rodents better watch out!
I’m betting some people think we like our lawn all shabby and spotty. So it was a brave guy who asked if we needed any help. This was in the context of gracious brothers and sisters offering all sorts of help to Mike and me.
We are told to serve each other. I was looking for the specific quote about being the hands and feet of Christ. Perhaps one of my brilliant friends can help. What I DID find was Galatians 6: 1 -3 where we are reminded that we need to help each other.
When the news of Mike’s illness spread, we received so many offers of help. Trying to be sensitive, many would ask what we needed. To be honest, it was (and is) hard to process. Some people just stepped up and provided what they knew we needed. A relevation.
So it was that friend Sheila reminded me that our church has many small groups who want to help. “Anything you need. Lawn mowed, Gutters cleaned, anything.”
On the heels of that offer, I came home to see the hub, on shaky legs, trying to climb up a ladder to clean out gutters. “Hm,’ thought I. “There are people who would do this for us.” So I called Sheila and she got the ball rolling.
Sunday after church, a small group of men descended on our house. They discovered that the gutters looked pretty clean….Mike had recovered and had done the deed himself. But they noticed some bald spots in the yard next to the new curbs we got from the city. Might I like them to plant some grass? Well, sure that would be nice.
Left to us, I’m betting those spots would remain bald. We came home to cultivated, seeded areas of lawn. A call to me mentioned, ever so gently, that it was going to be dry so I might want to water the grass. I said I would, for sure.
“We wondered if you’d like us to mulch.” Wow. Yes. That would be great. “We meet on Wednesday mornings at 6:30. Would we bother you if we came then?”
Well, no not at all.
So early Wednesday morning two pick ups pulled up, a little army of young men descended and within an hour, our yard was standing tall. Then I heard it, the sound of running water. One of them decided the new grass needed a little drink.
Our neighbors have got to laugh. “Look what it took for the Bolingers to get their yard looking so good.”
No matter. The hands and feet of Jesus were covered in mulch this week. Thank you , friends, for taking such good care of us.