Zen and the art of fall lawn maintenance

November 9, 2012 | Everyday Divine, Uncategorized

I was sitting in my office this afternoon, trying to ignore the constant buzzing, droning sound of the neighbor’s leaf blower, when I remembered a section of Everyday Divine that focuses on the power of repetitive motion, specifically raking. So I thought I’d share it here for all those folks who will be piling and hauling and bagging leaves this weekend. And if you happen to be among those getting a little snow, there’s something for you as well.

From Chapter 3:

For me, raking is a chore that’s so naturally suited to prayerfulness, I often seek it out on fall weekends in upstate New York where the leaf drop can be a bit overwhelming. No sooner is the job done than it needs to be done again. I think that’s what makes it the perfect everyday prayer opportunity. The movement itself is rhythmic and meditative, and the very fact that the job I do will be undone with the first stiff breeze gives it a deeply philosophical bent.

We have an industrial-strength gas-powered leaf blower, but I prefer to gather the leaves the old-fashioned way. I look forward on crisp October mornings to the feel of the rake in my hands, the sound of my work boots crunching against fallen acorns, the sight of the brilliant reds and yellows and oranges all around me. It’s easy to feel God’s presence when I’m standing in the middle of such awesome beauty.

Sometimes I listen to spiritual music; other times I listen to the silence and the scratch, scratch, scratching of the rake against earth. I may pray actively for someone in particular or for a special intention, or I may choose to do nothing more than listen for the whisper of the Spirit and contemplate God’s presence in my life.

For the record, the same can be said of snow shoveling. While my husband opts for the noisy snow blower — for which I am eternally grateful on those days when the snow is measured in feet, not inches — I choose the plastic shovel. Walking back and forth from one side of the driveway to the other, pushing the snow, lifting and heaving, breathing in air so cold it makes the inside of my nose freeze, I sense God swirling around me like the snowflakes. “I am here,” he seems to say to my heart, and as I watch my neighborhood slowly go from dismal gray to sparkling white, it seems silly that I could ever doubt that.

More where that came from. Everyday Divine: A Catholic Guide to Active Spirituality


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