Monday, May 19, 2014

The Image of God Behind the Hedgeclippers

My sister and her husband visited our home this weekend while he attended a work conference downtown. Nancy and I had a lovely time, eating at girly restaurants, shopping at girly stores. And I discovered something new about my big sister: she enjoys yardwork.

During the neighborhood garage sale Saturday morning while I sat at the end of the driveway with the riding lawnmower and the '71 Yamaha bike hoping to clear out some room in the garage, she went around trimming up plants, raking out corners, pulling up weeds and stragglers, just generally cleaning up our front yard something beautiful. And after lunch, she came home and did it in the back, too. For fun. Because she wanted to do it.

I've never been much for yardwork, and I realized today that this is because I didn't know what I was doing. While I watched her taking out deadwood (literally) on our grounds, I joined in (now that I was aware of the deadwood also and of the correct and efficient way to get it out). And now I get the appeal.

It's the same feeling I have when I clean out the refrigerator and dump the partially eaten restaurant leftovers, the two-week-old chicken breast, the ketchup bottle so nearly empty that everybody gave up trying to force more ketchup out and opened a new bottle. Clear it out.

The same feeling I have when a party is over, and the excitement is still kind of ringing in the air but the guests are gone, and I'm walking through the party room, picking up cups and plates, gathering the evening's toys, putting away the pens and tossing the paper scraps, returning pillows and afghans to their rightful places, getting leftover food in the fridge, emptying the trash.

The same feeling I will have at the end of the week going through the girls' backpacks, throwing out food wrappers and scraps of paper, piling up books and deciding where they will be kept for future reference, setting aside tests and papers and interesting assignments to store for posterity, dumping the crumbs at the bottom of the bag in the trash and wiping it out so it doesn't attract vermin before we need it again in the fall.

Decluttering. Re-creating order. It is SOOOO satisfying. It is satisfying enough to me that I have a hard time understanding how people can stand to live very long in clutter and disorder. I mean, when you have a busy period of your life, yes, picking up may have to wait. But to just live with unnecessary items all around you, sitting in your way, making it hard to find what you need when you need it -- or even to get from one side of the room to another -- how can you not just scream after a while?

But I've learned that not everyone is like me. And I'm gradually learning to recognize this "fault" in other people as not necessarily being a fault at all. God is a God of order, and my urge to declutter is one of the ways I am made to reflect His image. Others reflect His image in ways I can't touch. Through creativity that astounds me. Through persistence that inspires me. Through compassion for the difficult-to-love that shames me.

Nevertheless, I am grateful to now know better how to maintain order in my yard. And if I find the persistence to keep it up, I'm sure my husband will be grateful, too.

No comments: