In the 1975 Broadway play “Give ’em Hell, Harry” (written by by Samuel Gallu), President Truman expressed the idea that it was a real privilege and a blessing for a man to be able to cut his own grass. And I think he may be right.
At times, of course, cutting the lawn on a regular basis can seem like a bothersome chore, especially when we have numerous other activities to distract us or occupy our time.
“Again, I have to cut the grass!” I’ll say to my wife. “I just cut it a few days ago.” I’m acting like a child, of course, when I speak like that, a child who would much rather watch a ballgame or take a nap in the hammock. Once I get over my petulant pouting, however, and resign myself to the task, the task overcomes me and soothes me in unexpected ways.
When I start the engine and begin cutting, I essentially enter another world. The noise of my push mower blocks out the noises around me and allows me to listen to my own thoughts. I usually begin by focusing on what else is scheduled for that day. Since I usually cut on the weekend, my Saturday thoughts are normally more pleasant because I’m typically looking forward to a family gathering that evening or a quiet movie night at home; on Sunday, though, I’m already back in work mode, and I’m planning for the week ahead.
Once I’ve finished cutting the uneven edges around our lot — the front and back gardens, the area around our big, pine tree, and the short strip on the far side — I am ready to settle in for my therapeutic walk, a leisurely walk that typically takes a good hour, a walk that allows me to reminisce, to sing, and to pray.
When I reminisce, I wander all through the 67 years of my life in a haphazard way. I may drift back to high school and recall the day when I amazingly dredged up the courage to ask Noreen to our Sophomore Soiree. Then, I might jump ahead 30 years and think about coaching Katrina’s youth soccer team when she was about ten years old. We were both overwhelmed by a game that was new to us. Later, I might replay the conversation that I had with my mom when I told her that I wanted to ask Barbara to marry me. Somehow, all those straight lines I am cutting in my lawn take me back to days gone by, and, often, when I’m back there, I’m reminded, too, of old songs, and I begin to sing.
Often, I sing the folk songs recorded by Peter, Paul, and Mary during the 1960s, songs that are easy to remember with their multiple-stanza storyline and a short conclusion: songs like “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” and “If I Had a Hammer” among others. Then, I might find myself singing old, children’s songs that we sang in the car with Maria and Katrina, classics like “Old MacDonald,” “The Wheels on the Bus,” and, of course, “This Is the Song that Never Ends.” If anyone can hear me above the motor of my machine, they’d probably laugh, but then, too, they’d be singing along because you can’t get those songs out of your head. Finally, when I’m close to the end of my task, I sing church songs like “Amazing Grace,” “I Can Only Imagine,” and “How Great Thou Art.” Naturally, these songs all remind me of my Creator, and, thus, I begin to pray.
During my final few passes with the mower, I praise God and thank Him for all the blessings He has bestowed upon me: a wonderful family, good health, lifelong provisions, and a home in a safe and prosperous nation. Then, I ask God to protect and help all my family members and others in my life. Generally speaking, I don’t even know what to pray for, so I simply say their names and trust that God knows their needs and will provide accordingly.
When my work is done, I turn off the engine, I put the mower in the shed, and I sit back and drink a lemonade or eat a popsicle as I admire my handiwork. My lawn always looks so crisp and clean at that point, and I feel good, too, because I have worked up a sweat, and the heat of the day has relieved somewhat the mild arthritis in my knees. Believe it or not, I feel young again, and that, too, is a blessing.