Sunday, June 7, 2009

Lawn mowing, or not, as theological exercise

Yesterday I went early to the garden center to get potting soil, edging for the new flower beds I'm creating and a replacement for the clematis that was a victim to some overzealous weed whacking early in the season. I confess that I hadn't mown my lawn yet this week. I will also say that I don't use weed killer on my lawn and I have really splendid crop of dandelions (not the usual dandelion greens kind, but a more tenacious, spreading/take over the lawn kind) that looked quite sprightly and yellow as I left the house.

I ran into one of my neighbors buying cosmos and she looked at my cart and asked, "so, did you mow your lawn?" The tone of voice implied that I was single-handedly responsible for the diminution in property values on our block otherwise caused by the recession in other parts of the country.

There are two theological questions that arise in response to this. One is a mental review of the conversation between Jesus and the young man about the great commandments: "love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself." What I want to know is exactly how I am supposed to love someone who asks me that question in that tone of voice? The great commandment is, well, great, but the tactical implementation leaves me baffled sometimes. I smiled politely and said that I would be mowing the lawn when I got home. This neighbor has two four feet by eight feet patches of lawn on either side of her front walk, which I suspect that she trims with nail clippers. I have a corner lot, and a lot of yard that I would like to turn into something besides lawn, but that hasn't happened yet.

The second theological question, or perhaps it's a midrash question, is when did weeds happen in the scheme of creation? Did weeds happen when Adam and Eve got locked out of the Garden of Eden? Or did they happen as an American experiment in landscape democracy went wrong when lawns took over our gardens? See page four-five of the history of landscape design. I imagine that before that dandelion greens were harbingers of spring, and a tonic for the winter blues.

This Thursday I'm meeting with the committee on ministerial preparation as a part of the ordination process. I'm wondering whether my lawn mowing theological questions are perhaps part of God's preparing me for this meeting. These people are gatekeepers for my call to ministry, at least in this denomination. I will confess to some angst. While I have faith in God, I have experience and knowledge of human evil, stupidity, and/or fear of change. It's a similar tactical implementation question. Yes, we walk by faith, not by sight; yes, if God is for us, who can be against us; yes, and how do I do that as I walk into that room?

Your prayers are always welcome, because I also have knowledge and experience of human kindness, compassion and support.

This coming Sunday I'm preaching using the text on the anointing of David by Samuel from 1 Samuel 15:34-16:13 and incorporating the lectionary texts from Mark 4:26-34 and 2 Corinthians 5:1-17 on faith, with the sermon title, Having Faith to Be Other. When in doubt, preach about it.
I'll keep you posted.

Does anyone have an appropriate poem about dandelions for this spot?
Maybe I should just plant a pot of mustard seeds...

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