Welcome to this week’s Throwback Thursday installment! Yes, it’s THAT time of the year once again! The leaf-raking season is officially underway here in Western New York, so it’s time to revisit this perennial acorn…er…I mean, chestnut, that was originally published back in November 22, 2017 and has been slightly revised each year.
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 ahead.
Sixteen 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 backyard 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 hired 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 many hours of very strenuous raking now takes about one hour with the leaf blower each session 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, Bible study resources, and podcasts from 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
Postscript: Raking leaves for hours on end also brings to mind another spiritual lesson. Those leaves started out 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