It was Thursday, November 26, 2020, Thanksgiving Day.
Overnight, rain showers had pelted down more leaves. On my morning run, the sky was still gray.
But even with the cloud cover blocking the sun, I saw rich colors of leaves on trees that were too stubborn to let them go. Golden yellows, bold scarlets, and shades of orange caught my attention.
I was on my 3-28-11 route. A neighborhood trek named after the date I first charted that run. Mileage wise that course is probably in the 3.5 range.
But, I’ll tell you what else caught my attention on those rain dampened streets—in terms of pace and quickness I am officially a turtle.
The slow, old legs got me back to the house. I did my usual post run stretching, and then I started to think about breakfast. No big breakfast this morning, I had that Thanksgiving spread on my mind.
At the kitchen table, I was skimming through the newspaper that was like a stuffed turkey full of ads for shoppers on Black Friday. I wonder if shoppers will ignore COVID-19 and hit the stores?
And then around 9:17, I heard an unmistakeable sound—a leaf blower.
I’m thinking to myself who in their right mind would fire up a leaf blower on Thanksgiving morning? What is this world coming to? Is nothing sacred anymore?
I pinpointed the sound. It was coming from one of the neighbors behind us. Because of their fence, I couldn’t see who was operating the leaf blower, but I sure could hear it.
For whatever reason, I was annoyed. Plus, all the yards in the neighborhood and the fallen leaves were wet from the overnight rain. Why would anyone want to mess with a wet lawn, wet leaves on Thanksgiving morning?
My irrational self thought about going into my tool shed, grabbing the sledge hammer, climbing over the wooden fence, greeting my neighbor with a smile, taking the leaf blower from his possession, placing it on the ground, and then pounding it without mercy.
I’m sure the news media would have fun with headline—Retired educator and church employee pounds neighbor’s leaf blower with a sledgehammer!
I am an imperfect human being. I have the capacity to annoy people— even loved ones with irritating habits that don’t register on my radar.
But, as I rapidly age, some of the details of daily living—like disregarding reasonable expectations unravel me. Yes, I’m officially a grumpy old geezer.
Let’s start with turn signals on automobiles and trucks.
I’m beginning to wonder why manufacturers put them on vehicles. My unscientific observation is that lots of drivers don’t use them. I’m beginning to wonder if some drivers even know their car is equipped with turn signals.
Keeping with the car driver theme, I will toss into the mix— yield signs, stop signs, and stoplights.
At some point, a wise person decided—hey, we need some rules for driving on our roadways. Maybe we need some signs and stoplights to remind and guide us as we drive. Those signs will help to keep us safe.
Again, I am an imperfect driver, but easily on any short distance drive in my community, I note drivers totally ignoring yield signs, stop signs, and stoplights.
Why is that?
Don’t drivers realize those signs have the capacity to prevent accidents, injury, and death?
In those moments when I observe drivers totally ignoring those guiding rules of the road, I want to be like Gomer from the Andy Griffith Show and shout out to them: “Citizen’s arrest, citizen’s arrest!”
Sadly, in today’s world if I did that even with good intentions, I would probably run the risk of being shot at, or at the very least arrested for disturbing the peace, or maybe whisked off for a mental evaluation.
Again, I can see the headline: Retired educator and church employee detained for screaming at traffic violators—“citizen’s arrest, citizen’s arrest!”
Occasionally, our three children and even my wife, the Commander Supreme, give me grief from our collective past.
Aside from goldfish and maybe a hermit crab or two, our children never had a furry pet in our home. An exception might be granted for the couple of wayward squirrels who once found their way into our attic space or the squirrel who fell down the chimney into our fireplace.
Now, I have nothing against furry pets, except they can be very expensive. This is especially true with veterinarian bills. I’ve heard the horror stories from friends.
But, I have recently discovered another furry pet related detail that really plucks my nerves.
At our church we have two dumpsters—one for trash and one for recycling.
We had to put locks on the recycling dumpster. Despite the church’s effort to be good neighbors, sometimes our neighbors dumped items into the dumpster that could not be recycled.
This would make the company who supplied the dumpster very, very unhappy. Of course, I think you would feel the same way if you found tiny plastic bags of overripe dog poop in your recycling dumpster.
Now, that we have the locks on the recycling dumpster, we have a dog walker who is leaving the poop bag at the base of the dumpster.
I don’t think it would be a good idea for me to have a conversation with this person.
So, what do a leaf blower, yield signs, stop signs, stoplights, and dog poop bags have in common?
When we shirk our responsibilities, not only do we potentially impact other people, we increase our own selfishness.
And perhaps in those moments in life when I become the biggest whiner of all time about the imperfections of others, I need to keep this reminder in front of me from Luke 6:42:
“How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Clearly, I need to go to my tool shed.
I need a crow bar.
I have a 2×4 to pry from my eye.
Sometimes, I need a reminder from sacred words to help my perspective.