Lessons From The Lawn Mower

I’m eight years old, it’s an early summer morning. I’m trying to beat the heat and get my chores done so I can spend the balance of the day with my friends. Out of nowhere I look up from the hypnotic state of going back and forth across my lawn to see my neighbor standing in my path. It’s clear he wants to say something, and since he’s always cranky my assumption is he is about to yell at me.

Reluctantly I shut off my lawn mower and begin to brace myself for his wrath. “When you’re finished here, come over to my house and mow my lawn.” And with that, he walks away.

Feeling somewhere between disbelief and downtrodden I dutifully do what I’m told. When I finish mowing our lawn as my parents had instructed I drag the lawn mower to my neighbor’s house and mow his lawn.

When the job is complete I begin the trek back to my house when said cranky neighbor yells, “Hey! Come back here!” Feeling both perturbed and not just a little paranoid, I turn around and head back to the neighbor. As I approach the stoop where he was standing and scowling at me, he reaches into his back pocket, pulls out his wallet and hands me a $5 bill. He turns around as he does so and says, “Come back next week.”

Money?! Is the neighbor actually paying me to mow his lawn? My parents don’t pay me, it’s just one of my chores. And then I had a huge life changing epiphany. What if other neighbors would pay me to mow their lawns? And with that, I began dragging my lawn mower to every house in the area, knocking on the door and offering my services for lawn mowing. An entrepreneur was born!

My little lawn mowing business flourished, but more importantly I learned some very important life lessons. Customer service is critical. Understanding expectations is key. Hard work is rewarding. Almost everything you do can be made into an enjoyable challenge, if not all out fun. And, sometimes the task or the people are just not a good fit (I also got fired that summer and it was in the end a great life lesson).

A million years later I still mow my own lawn and it still gives me great pleasure. I’ve told many a colleague that there is nothing more satisfying after a day of work than to mow my lawn: no committee meetings, no budgetary considerations, just a pure sense of accomplishment!

The smell of fresh cut grass, a time of solitude to reflect, ponder, pray, a sense of completion, oneness with creation…that, for me, is a good day.

“Like wood, reality has a grain. Like a river, it has a current. Like a story, it has characters and setting and conflict and resolution. . . . Creation reveals wisdom through its patterns. It reveals wisdom about its source and purpose and about our quest to be alive . . . if we are paying attention.” – Brian McLaren

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