PS: My friend, Cindy, is a good steward of her camera. I’ve ordered and used several of her cards that contain some of her photographs. I’d like to gift two of you with a set; if you’d like to be included in the give-away, visit Cindy and tell me which photograph you’d like. Shalom.
My neighbor taught me a lesson a few days ago. A lesson about what it means to be a steward of inconvenience.
I call him neighbor, but the truth is I don’t even know his name. He lives down the road and around the corner from my home. I only see him in passing while I’m out walking; he’s a lawn person. You know the kind… those folks who live for the lush and green and blossom of summertime. Those who aren’t afraid to get on their knees and tend to the parcel of land beneath their feet. Those whose water bills double during summertime because of their love for landscaping. Those who potentially get annoyed when any one thing creeps in to wreak havoc upon their hard work.
Yep, he seems to be one of them; accordingly, I felt that he might be irritated by the presence of city water trucks last weekend. Several workers showed up on his front lawn to dig up, tear up, and fix up a broken water line that ran from the middle of the street onto his property. I made a few laps in their direction, noting the consternation on the face of my neighbor and his wife. They kept close watch on those workers, even more so on the lawn that was being dismantled; not a large parcel of land but just enough to inconvenience them both. I quietly regarded the scene, packed it away and didn’t give it much thought until I passed by again a few days later.
The scene was much different this go around. No more workers; no more holes in the ground; no more digging and no more corporate mess. Just a man, his hose, a loosely tilled piece of earth, and a patched, gravel spot where the asphalt had previously known fracture. I paused from my walking and commented to this unnamed neighbor about the condition of his lawn.
“Looks like they really messed up your lawn; I know how much work you put into it. Sure hope they found what they were looking for; sure hope it didn’t cost you much.”
“Just a little water line break and, no, it didn’t cost me a dime. Just a little patch of ground.”
A smile broke across his face, and then one broke across my heart. As I pushed on past his little patch of ground, I thought long and hard about what he had said; his gracious response wasn’t what I had expected. I anticipated his annoyance. Instead, he spoke his peace. In a few simple moments, he taught me something about what it is to be good steward of earthly inconveniences.
I get the feeling he understands something about the earth… about ultimate ownership and his temporary rights therein. About what it is to tend to earth’s parameters—the ones marked out for him by life’s trajectory; the ones that have become his responsibility for the earthly tenure granted him. And while his great love for his lawn is obvious to all passer-byers, what is greater is his perspective regarding the inconveniences that sometimes mediate their witness into the soil beneath his feet.
Rather than complaining, throwing a fit, and being annoyed by the freshly dug-up “brown” amidst the lush and green of a season’s hard work, my neighbor took it all in stride; took a hose in hand, and hovered over that little patch of ground. He bent to his inconvenience, bowed low and served the soil by watering it with his careful and willing stewardship.
I wonder how many of us could say the same… could live the same. Could see life and all its inconveniences with a similar posture of heart. A perspective that continually looks on the bright side of bothers—the right side—and that says…
This life is not my own; it was bought at a price, and it didn’t cost me a dime. Just a little patch of ground here and there. Just a little bit of soil that really doesn’t belong to me in the first place. Just a little bit of time; a little bit of water; a little bit of tending and bending to make sure that any temporary loss is replaced by eternal perspective, eternal growth. Eternal harvest that leaves our little patches of unearthed “brown” healthier, more vital, more vibrant, and more mature because of the tilling that’s taken place within.
What would it take for us to get there, friends? What if we looked at all of life and the little patch of ground entrusted to our care as the greatest, most precious holding of our hearts? What if, instead of collapsing with every uprooting that takes place in our lives, we just grabbed a hose, stooped low, and simply offered our hearts and hands to the re-growth therein? What if we could live there instead of staying mired in our annoyances? What if we simply consigned our gratefulness to the witness and grace of each new day we’re given, regardless of the intrusions that present themselves?
What if we could be a steward of inconvenience? A willing giver in the midst of taking. A joyful tender of disruption. A gracious gardener despite uprooting.
Indeed, a lesson given to me by an unnamed neighbor. I am thankful for its arrival—a small understanding applied to a great big life that just might make a huge impact for the kingdom of God.
Just a little patch of ground for Jesus. Beneath my feet; beneath yours.
Even so, my good, kind friends, keep to it. As always…
Peace for the journey,