pray. - Go Rake Some Leaves

Last Wednesday, I woke up and met a friend out at Paris Mountain State Park for a nice little hike slash downhill trail run. It was a beautiful morning and the view of the sun rising to the heavens over the waterfalls and mountain was breathtaking. For me, moments like that are more spiritual than a church sermon on a Sunday morning. I want to create more of those moments for myself in 2019.

Fast forward to a couple of hours after that glorious hike. Since I was already smelly and had the energy, I thought I'd try being a decent neighbor for once and rake some leaves in the front yard. I took off to the garage and grabbed the electric leaf blower and an old fashion rake. Once I plugged in the leaf blower, off I went on this journey. The driveway and walkway were cleared within minutes. So, I started blowing the front lawn, but it was such a gorgeous day I decided to get the rake and put in some manual labor.

Just as I was getting started, a black Ford Explorer pulled up and a lady rolls down the window. I stopped what I was doing, smiled, and said hello. The lady's daughter was in the car with her. They stopped to inquire about the neighborhood since her daughter is interested in purchasing a house on our street. I answered their questions and provided my own insight and then we said our farewell.

Back to raking.

As I started getting my rhythm, my neighbor steps out on the sidewalk and says hello. Again, I stop raking, smile and say hello. We chat for a few minutes about her recent life changes. She married her, well our, next door neighbor and moved one house over from her's to his. After a few minutes, she headed inside and I continued my raking.

About halfway through my raking journey, another neighbor drives up, rolls down the window, and asks, "What are you doing raking? Where's that husband of yours?" 

I replied, "He's working. It's a beautiful day, so I thought I'd get outside and do some work."

"You don't have a good leaf blower?" my neighbor responds. 

"We actually have two, but it's nice out and raking gives me exercise, so I chose to rake."

His wife chimed in, "Raking can be like meditation. I get it."

Small talk pursued. Then off they went. 

I eventually finished my raking and just in time for the city truck to come suck up all the leaves from the sidewalk. Put the rake and leaf blower away. Walked inside and sat down with a glass of water. I looked down at me feminine hands and noticed blisters popping up from all the raking. So, naturally, I get up and go pop them and watch the liquid ooze out because it's oddly satisfying and entertaining to do that. Then, I get myself a shower and feel the blisters and rawness of my hands burn a little. And, as I feel the slight tingle of my hands, I grin gratefully.

A few observations I took from my time raking leaves: 

1. Spending time in my front yard raking leaves provided more socialization with my neighbors than I've had with them the entire year. Later in the day, I was listening to a podcast and heard this, "We know more about the lives of celebrities and people we've never met than we know about our neighbors." That stepped on my toes. I've chosen to close myself off from many of our neighbors based solely on brief judgmental passings. I long for a community but I don't do my part in building it. 

2. I'm a woman who doesn't believe yard work is only for the man. I enjoy it. I enjoy it more when we can do it together, but I can do it alone. I've grown very dependent on my husband over the years. Tomorrow isn't promised and if I was tragically left to fend for myself, I'd drown. So, I think to myself,  "Step it up buttercup and start being independent again." The relationship I have with my husband is very much yin and yang. I can rake leaves if I want to, and it shouldn't reflect badly on him or cause others to question why I, the woman, am outside raking leaves. 

3. To piggyback on number two, I enjoy yard work because it isn't always easy; it makes me feel alive and thankful. I'm healthy and capable. My body is able. I want to use it and challenge it. I don't want to take it for granted because one day I could long for the opportunity to be able to rake leaves in my front yard. And, yes, it is meditative. The progress can be seen immediately. Immediate, visible progress is a rare gem.

The small moments in life teach us the most, but we must be present enough to recognize them. Step away from the t.v. and cell phones. Go bask in the sun, revel in God's creations, and rake leaves. You never know what you may discover.


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