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Mower Musings

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    It makes absolutely no sense at all why an asthmatic, hyper-allergic man in his forties would love to mow the lawn. My family assumes it’s just another demonstration of my off-center way of looking at life. I’ve often tried to figure out the origin of this strange affliction. Of course my musings on my mowing fascination nearly always occurs when... yep, you guessed it, when I’m mowing. The best I can figure it, there are several things that contribute to this fascination with mowing.

    First, there are no phone calls or interruptions. Most folks don’t interrupt a forty-five year old man in old grass-stained tennis shoes, who is red-faced, sweating profusely, and covered with bits of grass and dirt who is talking to himself. This is especially true when he is pushing a loud engine with a wildly spinning dangerous blade. It’s nice to mow because I get to be alone with my thoughts and myself. It’s hard to find good think-time. So I use my mowing time as think-time and clear away the clutter in mind.

    Second, I get a real sense of accomplishment. So much of what I do has no sense of closure — well, I guess funerals are the exception, but then that’s a different matter. Ministry is a lot like raising kids and juggling warm Jell-O; about the time you get everything under control, things come apart and end up a huge mess. Ministry is good for humility, but not so great for a sense of accomplishment. It’s nice to take a scraggily lawn, cut it in neat rows, and then take pride in the accomplished task. Third, I get to burn off some of my meanness. Without a physically demanding job, it is hard to work “a mad” off. I’m not sure where “a mad” comes from exactly, but I’ve got an idea that maybe it’s some disease transmitted in car exhaust because mine always manifests after a rush hour commute. When I get “a mad,” it is usually not directed at anyone in particular, it’s just that frustrated, angry feeling that can ruin an evening with the family and hurt those I love. There are just some times when I need to mow to burn up “a mad” so I can be who God wants me to be with me family.

I get to talk with God.
    (By now, you’re probably wondering, “What in the world is Christian or spiritual about a bunch of random musings about mowing?” To be honest, I don’t really know myself. But as long as we’ve gotten this far, why not go ahead and finish.)

    Fourth, I get to talk with God. When my mind is free from its many distractions, I begin to talk with God as I mow. It’s a lot like Tevia in Fiddler on the Roof. I tell God what I’m sorry about over the past week. I pray for folks I love. I talk to him like I would my own father about how to help my children, encourage my wife, lead our church, or help folks mend problems between themselves. He never talks back; at least not directly. But the Father does use in some way, because by the time the edging is done and the clippings are swept up, I feel like I have a lot better handle on things. I’m not nearly as stirred up about my problems. I’m tired, smelly, dirty, and sneezy, but I emerge with a new game plan and attitude for my life.

    I’ve read the story of Abraham many times with a deep sense of wonder. I’ve noticed that he repeatedly built altars and offered sacrifices to God wherever he went. I see this as his real claim to fame. Without this, I don’t believe Abe could have handled the big stuff — leaving home without a destination, taking a long journey with a quarreling family, having miracle kids as an old man, and be willing to sacrifice for God. I’m no Abraham. When my grandchildren talk about me, they’re probably not going to have a long list of accomplishments to praise. But I’m comforted that at least they can talk about all the lawns I mowed, and how mowing made me a little easier to live with and helped me find God’s way for my short journey through life. So if you see some forty-five year old man, red faced and pushing a mower, talking very animatedly to no one but himself, just realize it’s me and I’m having one of my mower musings and celebrating a holy moment with God.

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A full archive of past articles by Phil Ware is maintained. Access recent articles The Joy of Sunrise, Just a Dab of Honey, and dozens more.
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About the Author...
Phil Ware is minister of the Word at Westover Hills Church of Christ in Austin, Texas. For the past 4 years, he has also been co-editor of HEARTLIGHT Magazine. For more details, click here.

Title: "Mower Musings"
Author: Phil Ware
Publication Date: May 1, 2000



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