The Spirituality of Freshly Cut Grass

I mowed the lawn this weekend.

Wow, Dave. That’s…um…amazing. Thanks for the Earth-shattering news. 

I know, I know. But, wait for it…

You see, the thing is, I haven’t done this since before I left my parents’ place to head off for college. Since I launched into the life of a student, professional, and otherwise participator in the adult world, I’ve been either a dorm or an apartment dweller. No lawns to mow, no real maintenance at all, as a matter of fact. Which is actually just as well, because, while I know my way around power tools and have helped build more than a few sets for more than a few shows in my life, I’m actually really not all that handy around the house. Building a facsimile of the real world to stand on a stage, while allowing your skills to develop with woodworking, is actually quite different than building or re-constructing something for the inside of your home.

My dad tried his best when I was young. I hauled wood for our wood burning stove, I even tried to split it on occasion. When I was very young, I went around the house with a set of plastic toy tools to accompany him on whatever small thing around the house needed to be repaired. I would screw and hammer pretend items as dad did the real work. By the time I was in college, I could assemble furniture. That, however, would remain the extent of the handy-man skills that I needed until last week.

The thing that I had always been good at around my childhood home, though…the weekly chore that my dad always felt comfortable giving to me, was mowing the lawn. I studiously observed his teaching me about the techniques with both a riding lawn mower and a push lawn mower than he used to take care of our lawn, which came in at just short of a full acre. Unlike most of the other things that I observed, though, I grasped the practical applications of this. As horrible as I am with mathematics, I grasped the geometry of establishing the angles of mowing, the framing of the area of the lawn that you’re working on and the careful progression inward, making the square always smaller until it does not remain, and you can move on to the next area. Starting and maintaining the mower…there’s a trick to all of that. Handling grass that has grown a bit too tall without stalling your mower…there’s a trick to that, as well. I knew those tricks. I actually took pride in the fact that I had learned this from my dad, that I could contribute to the household in that way.

I suppose it’s like riding a bike. When Karen and I moved into this house upon arriving in North Carolina, we had to purchase a lawn mower. I called my father to get his advice on which one to purchase. We unpacked it, set it up. I was looking forward to taking care of our lawn. A great deal of the rest of the home improvement that needs done to our house I’ve been irritated with, but this…this I hadn’t done in so long, and I was almost thrilled with the anticipation of caring for a lawn again. Starting the mower was a spiritual experience in its own right. I remembered all that my father taught me those years ago. I handled it well. I contributed in the best I way knew how.

The beautiful thing is…I get to do it again next week.

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