Spiritual lessons from raking leaves, redux!

Yes, it’s THAT time of year once again! The leaf-raking season is officially underway here in Western New York, so it’s time to dig up this apropos post from November 2017, with a few updates added.

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After a very tumultuous period in our marriage, the Lord miraculously brought my wife and I back together in 2002. We then lived in an apartment for a couple of years and in 2004 we were looking for a new home. We were both in our late-forties at the time. Our two sons were adults and on their own and after having a house and a yard for twenty-two years, I was thinking in terms of a condominium. But my wife and her realtor sister went looking at houses “just for grins” and called me at work one day, saying to come quick and check out the “dream house” they had found. I pulled into the driveway and gulped hard. Argh! The wood-shingled house was on a heavily-wooded lot (13 mature oaks and 3 locust trees) with a long, double-wide driveway. All that meant A LOT of outdoors work ahead for myself at a point when I was contemplating a future living situation with NO outside work. My wife was so enthusiastic about the house and property that I knew I was forever going to be the “big jerk” if I said no. But at age 48, I reasoned that I still had many years of physical energy left in the tank to deal with the house painting and yardwork (and snowblowing) ahead.

Fifteen years later, my wife and I still joke about the day after we moved into the house. Everything was fine on our moving-in day, but when I woke up the next morning and looked out the window, I saw that the oak trees had released many of their leaves en masse overnight and the entire back yard was covered. Oy!  Welcoming an opportunity for a little exercise (gulp!), I got out my trusty rake and went to work. And work. And more work. If you’re familiar with oak trees then you know the leaves are big and as sturdy as shoe leather. As I dripped with sweat after hours of raking, our next door neighbor shouted out with playful sarcasm, “Welcome to the neighborhood!” Argh!

I raked those leaves from the last week of October to the first week of December for the next 12 years. The raking was hard enough, but I also had to transfer the mounds of leaves I had collected onto a tarp and then drag the tarp to the front yard and deposit the leaves along the curb where our towns’ highway department collected them. With our own oak trees plus the neighbors’ oaks that leaned over our property, I ended up collecting and hauling 60+ tarp-loads of leaves (yes, 60!) to the curb every year. Condo anyone? Every year, my wife suggested I buy a heavy-duty, gas-powered leaf blower, but I couldn’t justify spending $300+ dollars when I was getting all of that good exercise! Plus, I was proud that I was able to handle all those leaves with only me and a rake in my hands. All of our pitiful neighbor menfolk either had powerful blowers or a leaf removal service. Ha!!!

Well, it was hard to admit, but age caught up with me in 2016 and I finally broke down and bought a gas-powered leaf blower (photo below). My boss at work had already done all the research and pointed me in the right direction as far as a good model and dealer. We’ve had 3 of the oaks and all 3 of the locust trees removed over the years because they were either too close to the house or were dying, so between that and the leaf blower, I’m still able to contend with the leaves even at my ripe old age.

“So what?,” you ask? Maybe you’re thinking, ♫”You’ve got your troubles, I’ve got mi-ine”♫, as my old friend, Jimmy, used to say? Or how about, “Would you like some cheese and crackers with that whine?”

Well, I do thank the Lord for all those leaves over the years. They got me outside to enjoy the fresh air and provided plenty of exercise. When I finished the leaves every season, I had the satisfaction of completing a difficult job. Now I can praise the Lord for the leaf blower and the great assistance that it provides. By comparison, what used to take eight hours of very strenuous raking now takes about one hour with the leaf blower with minimal physical effort.

The heavy lawn work is full of spiritual lessons as well. We needn’t bear life’s circumstances and burdens alone. Christians have the indwelling Holy Spirit. We have God’s Word to guide us and the constant opportunity to commune with the Lord in prayer. We have the church and fellow believers. We also have good books and Bible resources written by faithful scholars and pastors.

There’s times when we’re plowing for the Lord and starting to feel fatigued (like after tarp # 43). But the Lord provides helpful “tools” to see us through. Are you too proud to seek the Lord’s help as you sojourn through this life?

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10

“Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper!” – Psalm 30:10

25 Encouraging Bible Verses About Burdens

Postscript: Raking leaves for hours on end also brings to mind another spiritual lesson. Those leaves started as little buds back in the Spring, were full bloom in Summer to catch all the sunshine, and withered and died in the Fall. We were born into this world through corruptible seed, but through Christ we look forward to eternal life!

“Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” – 1 Peter 1:23

 

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Above: Tarp #1 of the 2019 Leaf Campaign about to be dumped curbside on Friday, October 25th. Approximately 60 more tarp-loads to go before the six-week campaign is over.
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We had a bad rain and wind storm in Rochester on Oct.31-Nov.1, which resulted in many oak leaves coming down early and allowing me to get a significant jump on the 2019 Leaf Campaign. Above, tarp #25 is about to be dumped on the growing leaf pile on Saturday, Nov. 2. Only 35 more tarps to go! 

18 thoughts on “Spiritual lessons from raking leaves, redux!

  1. Oh… My… Goodness! And I thought our single, giant fruitless Mulberry tree was bad. It produces masses of massive leaves. They all fell almost at once too, leaving what I call a Leaf Apocalypse in our yard.

    In a little over two hours, I raked and bagged 158.7 pounds of leaves — yes, I weighed them! — and there are still many more leaves to go. But your leaves — wow — I couldn’t do it!

    I have been telling myself to get back out there and finish the job, because “those leaves won’t rake themselves.” And yet… they bud and grow and fall off the trees themselves. It seems only right that they should also put themselves into the garbage bin. 😀

    I did a lot of praying during my measly two hours of raking. Exercise and prayer is always good.

    We have two locust trees in our back yard, too. My husband is going to have them cut down he said, because they are so invasive. Poisonous pods fly everywhere, and black locust saplings keep growing off the roots all over the yard, which produce terrible sharp needle-like stickers. My husband is 70, I am just four years behind him, and he can’t rake anymore due to a very bad hip and a destroyed right shoulder rotator cuff. We bought this house last year. I’m thinking we should have gone for a condo!

    God bless. Thank you for this post. It makes our one Mulberry tree not seem so terrible. Although it’s really the size of a small forest, this tree. I did not know Mulberrys ever got this big. It’s a beautiful tree, though. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for all your good comments, Linda! Raking is tough work, no two ways about it, and hard on the arms, shoulders, and back. I’m so grateful for the leafblower because I had definitely reached the point where I could not rake all of the leaves any more. Hope you get all of your leaves up okay. Yes, for me raking and hauling tarps is an excellent opportunity to pray or listen to good sermons via my earpods. Sorry about your husband’s hip and shoulder. My wife can’t help me either because of her physical maladies. I’ll reach a point where I won’t be able to drag those 60 tarps to the curb. I’m glad our town collects the leave curbside because there’s no way I could bag the volume I have. If I had truly understood the amount of work involved with the leaves in the Fall I never would have bought this house.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You know that Seller Disclosure statement you get when you’re buying a house through a Realtor, where the seller is supposed to disclose any known problems with the plumbing, roof, foundation, electrical, or whatever? I’ve been thinking there needs to be a clause on there pertaining to killer yard work hazards. 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My sister-in-law was the realtor who “helped” us buy the house and she did a lousy job as far as I’m concerned. Her daughter lived only 5 houses from us at the time so they were thoroughly familiar with the back-breaking leaf situation. Plus the house had zero updates. My wife was so thrilled with the “park-like” setting that we “parked” our brains in the driveway when we agreed to buy.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Crissy, I like that last emoji! I do enjoy all the shade in the backyard during the summertime, but I definitely would not have bought the house if I had an inkling of all the work that was coming. 🍁

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It was so impulsive and irrational to buy this property which requires so much work when I was 48 at the time and contemplating condo living. Besides the yardwork, the house had zero updates. Everything looked like 1975 inside. It was the first and only house I looked at and our sister-in-law realtor pressured us to put an offer on the house that day because someone had already put an offer on it. Very impulsive and emotional decision.

      Liked by 1 person

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