Mowing your way to heaven
By Bobby Neal Winters
As some of you may recall, I started off my mowing season this year with great hope. I’d replaced my 3.5 horse power mower with a 4.5 horse power model. If I’d known the difference it would make I’d’ve done it sooner because it took 50 percent off my mowing time. It used to take over an hour and a half to mow my lawn, and this summer it has averaged one hour.
Now I could be persuaded that some of the increased efficiency is because I’ve gotten better at nudging toys out of the way with my foot, but most of it is because of the higher horsepower in that I can more readily mow over the toys instead. If you have a mulching mower, the kids will never even miss them.
The upshot is I’ve spent a good deal less time mowing this summer on account of that.
Now you have to understand that this is not an undiluted blessing because I have given up on getting to heaven by good works and instead I am making my case by the amount of time I spend working on my lawn. I am trying to mow my way to heaven.
This sounds strange, but there are a lot of men just like me who’ve given up on all of the usual theologies and are trying to avoid the eternal flames by virtue of their lawn. Like any religion, there are various sub-theologies within it.
There are some who think that you have to have a perfect lawn with all of the grass of the same species and at exactly the same height. Within that group, there are the ones who favor a particular kind of grass. These are the ones who’d be sitting on a mountain top living on cold water and parched corn if they were affiliated with a traditional religion.
Others believe that you aren’t required to have a perfect lawn, but you really need to be trying for a perfect lawn. The creed is that a perfect lawn is not to be obtained in this life, but that during a period of time after death, the imperfections of one’s lawn will be taken away.
I’ve belonged to each of these sects in my time, but I now follow another way. I believe our lawns make us righteous through suffering.
Initially I believed in the manner of the first group, but I discovered I’d have to kill all of my old lawn and sod it in completely new, and that was simply beyond my ability. Then I moved to the second sect, and, after a while, I discovered difficult that was. Even though you know you can’t have a perfect lawn, you still have to try, and trying is the hard part.
So I decided to quit trying and now go directly to suffering without the intervening effort.
The new 4.5 horse power machine is not the only thing that’s cut into my mowing time this summer. That hot, dry spell we had did its part too. Usually I start the year with a one-week rotation and switch off to a two-week rotation around the Fourth of July. This year I did that, and mowed at the beginning of July and again at the middle, but then the grass stayed basically the same height until the end of August, turning ultimately into a toasty brown.
From a theological point of view, this worries me. Is God working against me? And at the same time is he telling me what I’m in for?
Now I could have watered, but then you come up against the sprinkling versus total immersion schools of thought, and, besides, that puts us back into the position of trying to have a perfect lawn. If I water, I might as well go back to my old religion.
If this wasn’t already hard enough, you’ve got folks like the Organist. She lives a block or two away from me, depending on how you count block, and I caught her out edging her walk the other day. Edging, mind you. This is totally unacceptable. She’s gumming up the works whatever way you look at it. On one hand, she’s opened herself to charges of perfectionism, and on the other, she’s upped the bar on suffering.
And she’s a woman. Women don’t get into heaven through yard work but through housekeeping.
As if things weren’t hard enough, this kind of piety has been known to start revivals. You’ve got to keep a lid on it and never give an inch.
Anyway, she’s lives a couple of blocks away. I’m hoping it’ll dampen out before it gets here.
(Bobby Winters is a Professor of Mathematics, writer, and speaker. You may contact him at email@example.com or visit his website at www.okieinexile.com. )