Raking The Leaves
I learned something about myself this week. We have three big old maple trees in our yard and, well, it’s fall. By the end of the windy week we’ve had, our green lawn was barely visible beneath the blanket of red and yellow leaves. And, so, even though I was really enjoying the new color palette and the crunch as we walked through the yard, it was time to do something about all the leaves. I headed outside with my daughter in tow, each of us with a rake in hand. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I didn’t expect to learn that I love raking leaves.
As I started making piles of leaves all over the yard, my daughter ran around with her rake between her legs like a witch’s broom. By the time the pile was big enough, I called her over to jump in it. I started on my next pile, but she called me over and invited me to her picnic. She said that pumpkin soup and cupcakes were on the menu and passed me a handful of leaves. We ate with gusto. Then, she declared that it was my birthday and held up a leaf for me to blow out my candles.
I got up to rake another pile and she continued to host the picnic for a variety of imaginary animals. She jumped into the next pile and I raked on top of her. She giggled and threw the leaves back at me. I jumped in with her and marveled at the colors. I might have even suggested to her that God painted the leaves. The colors are just so beautiful, they stop me in my tracks every time.
I continued to rake the side yard and she continued to play. We fell into a comfortable rhythm, each of us focused on our own task. Maybe it was visceral feeling of the metal rake prongs scraping through the grass, or the accomplishment I felt as I looked across the cleaned up yard, or maybe it was just the crisp fall air and the sunshine. But by the time we were finished, both my head and the yard were clear. My daughter and I were both smiling.
Here’s what I know…when I get stressed, I get caught up on two things. The first are the “shoulds.” I should just let it go. I should be doing something else. I should be doing more. I shouldn’t be worried about this. I should be better. The second thing that happens when I’m stressed is that I think I have to understand everything. I drive myself crazy thinking about possibilities and overthinking why something happened.
For me, the gift of Celtic Christianity is the continual call to presence, to just be. To allow God to do God’s work in you and through you. No need to understand it all or check all the boxes on a list to ensure the work is done. God is with us and within us always. We need not understand it always, we merely need to pay attention. This week, all I had to do to pay attention was rake the leaves.