The announcement had been in the church newsletter for weeks. I had no idea how many people from our congregation might show up to work on the grounds of our church.
It was the second weekend of August, and even with COVID-19 still disrupting lives, I knew some people would be out of town. And, I knew that August can be brutal with a hot sun, along with high humidity and dew points. But, I was still hopeful that a few brave souls would show up.
At the breakfast table on that Saturday morning, my wife asked me how many people did I think would be there. I think I guessed five.
Our church grounds are pretty, and they also require lots of attention. Natural areas, landscaped borders, trees, shrubs, flowers, lawn areas, parking lots, sidewalks, and weeds—lots of weeds.
We have an annual contract with a grounds maintenance company. Their employees really take care of our grounds, but we contract for very basic requirements—mowing, edging, some trimming, and most importantly for the fall gathering up of all our leaves.
I had spent time developing a list of areas to target for attention on Saturday. Plus, I had requested a load of mulch from a church member who runs a landscaping business. This load arrived late on Thursday afternoon. Friday, I organized tools, checked tires on wheelbarrows, and filled a cooler with bottles of water and ice.
Early on Saturday morning, I went to the church to organize the tools, stage the cooler, and make access to restrooms.
By 8:30, we were ready to start, and seven brave souls arrived. There were actually nine of us including my wife and I.
We had three weeders who tackled the front grounds facing Forest Avenue.
On the Stuart Hall Road side, we had a team of three for mulch, and a mother and her teenage daughter who did masterful work with a weed eater and a power washer.
I did some overdue trimming in the Bicentennial Garden and along the stairs leading to the back parking lot along Rock Creek Road.
The word of the morning was sweat. Within minutes, no matter our task, we were perspiring. August was being August, no one was spared. But, I never heard a whimper from anyone working.
What I saw was diligence, determination, and care. These volunteers worked in their designated areas like the grounds were their own backyards.
The weeders had keen eyesight. They did not miss a weed, nor did they dig up non-weeds.
The mulch team got the spreading depth right, and they knew how to top off their work with a touch of neatness. When a long stretch of a border was completed parallel to a broad sidewalk, a push broom and leaf blower were put to use.
Our teenager with the power washer had a tough assignment. She was working in the Memorial Garden, confined space with brick walls that over time mother nature had coated with all kinds of micro vegetation.
Her mom with the weed eater tackled a natural area that we work to keep from becoming overgrown.
Not everyone was able to stay until 12 noon, but every minute given by these volunteers with big hearts made a difference.
As noon approached, we found natural stopping points. We cooperatively returned tools, buckets, and wheelbarrows to their storage places.
I thanked each person and wished them a restful afternoon.
I am convinced that yard work at your home or at your church is good for your soul. I think we have the opportunity to learn about ourselves in those environments. I also believe it is a time to reflect.
Take weeds for an example, no question weeds are a nuisance.
At times, I think people might see me as a nuisance, and I might be blind to my weed like shortcomings that annoy people.
But, I wonder if weeds were God’s creation as he was developing his landscape plan. Or maybe weeds were the creation of another nuisance—the Devil.
The closest I ever heard my father come to cussing was over his garden nemesis—wire grass. I can still hear him, “That durn wire grass.”
Maybe we need weeds to remind our souls that sometimes weeding is required in our personal lives too. I have lots of imperfections.
As pesty and pesky as weeds are to mess with during their growing season, they do have an admirable trait—resilience.
If you don’t whack them out completely by their roots, weeds are going to grow back.
We need some resilience in our world right now.
In case you haven’t noticed, we have lots of weariness all around us.
I wonder if we can sacrifice, can we adjust, can we change, can we cooperate, can we listen, can we bounce back, can we recover, can we right ourselves?
Answering those questions all depends on our hearts.
Maybe the most resilient heart in the whole world belongs to God.
No matter how weedy our lives might be, his resilient heart never gives up on us.
And right now, we can’t give up on his heart either.