27 March, 2001

Welcome to my world.
. . . In my world, the hedge out front is almost trimmed. I would have finished the job yesterday except it was snowing when we woke and the day seemed to get colder as it progressed. The weatherman talked about the possibility of a record low. Weathermen love that kind of talk.
. . . The day before yesterday was sunny and bright. I would have finished trimming the hedge that day except it was Sunday and a day of rest. At least I wanted to think of it as a day of rest, not just because I had worked hard all week but also because I had stayed up late Saturday night watching Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest sci-fi flick -- "The Sixth Day" (two cloned severed thumbs up!) -- and one of my favorite Cary Grant movies -- "People Will Talk."
. . . Usually on Sundays we go to the 8:00 a.m. service. Instead we overslept, then dragged ourselves to the 10:15 a.m. service. By the end of worship, my wife was eager to play in the yard under the clear blue sunny sky.
. . . I wasn't. I'd been hacking away at that hedge all week like a bad cough. Eight feet high and 126 feet long, it's a challenge, especially to someone who has never trimmed a hedge in his life. If Barbara was eager for yard work, I wanted to get away from it.
. . . Thank God for giving me the gift of gab! In two minutes, I convinced Barbara we had to eat lunch and, by driving twenty minutes, we could do so in old New Castle, a place we'd never visited before, a river port dating back to the mid-1600s, the place where William Penn first stepped ashore onto the New World.

Returning from lunch, Barbara jumped on the untrimmed hydrangas. I would have joined her in the yard but, instead, found a most remarkable patch of sunlight deliciously toasting the bedroom carpet. I was only going to lie there for a moment, really. Is it my fault two hours quickly passed?
. . . Sleep, worship, lunch, and more sleep, eventually I ran out of ways to procrastinate. Yes, I'm sorry to say, I did finally work on the hedge Sunday. Now I have only ten feet of hedge left to trim. Of course, that includes the place over the gate where the hedge soars fourteen feet into the air. Reaching high, stretching out from a borrowed stepladder, is a pleasure I've been saving for last.
. . . Everyone who passes by has a word of advice. Alan Kleban, who owned this house from 1987 to 1997, says he trimmed the hedge, once. After that, he hired someone else to do it. Aaron Hamburger suggests I get electric shears. That's what he uses. In fact, he was on his way to the hardware store when he passed. He had been trimming his own hedge. By mistake, he had cut through the electric cord that powered the shears but he knew where to get them repaired. After all, this was the third time he'd done it!
. . . People offered more than advice. While we waited in line Saturday night with a hundred other people at the village dinner, Larry Walker came up and offered to lend me his two-stroke gasoline-powered shears. Dan Conner, who does yard work when he's not getting major surgery, seconded Larry's advice. Mark Taylor offered his twelve-foot step ladder.
. . . If neighbors offered advice, trimmers and ladders, no neighbor volunteered to work. Most had their own hedges. If, instead of looking grim, I had seemed delighted with my work, perhaps passersby would have joined me, or even paid me to help. I may have a gift of gab, but I'm no Tom Sawyer. Instead of joining the fun, my neighbors went away feeling guilty about their own yards, which are full of just-budding trees, shrubs, hedges and bulbs crying for attention.

Writing this, I realize now I could serve my neighbors better. If I was a better neighbor, I would do my work inside and my sleeping outside. Everyone passing by could see me and feel superior. Instead of making passersby feel guilty, I could make them feel better about themselves.
. . . Love thy neighbor. That's something like God's number two priority for us. Hedges don't figure into it much at all. I need to repent. Is there time for me to turn over a new leaf? Here's my plan. As spring progresses into summer, I'll ignore the yard and think only of my neighbors. When they come by, they'll see me snoozing in the sun and leave feeling good, not guilty.
. . . It'll be hard work for me. I'll have to stay up all night if I'm going to sleep all day. But nights are short and days are long in summer. I fear I won't be able to sleep all day. What can I do to serve my neighbors when I'm awake?
. . . I know! I'll set up a table and chairs. I'll have glasses and a pitcher of lemonade. When I'm awake, I'll get passersby to join me. If two or three of us are lounging idly, that will REALLY encourage other passersby to think they are superior, give them something to gossip about, and in general make their lives blessed.
. . . Spring is here. Summer can't be far behind. I'm ready to do my part to make the world a better place..


RESPONSES

Kathy, a woman who cuts her own firewood with a chainsaw, writes: You could also go "join the fun" with your neighbors in working in their yards! Wouldn't they be surprised! I think if you helped someone in their yard, they could help you in yours and you would have no more total work out-put but twice the social possiblities! What ever happened to the old barn-raising concept?


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Choosing Among Possibilities.
Tuesday, March 20, 2001.

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Kansas and the Need for Prayer.
Tuesday, April 3, 2001.

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Text and images copyright 2001 Danny Nelson Schweers