With a cheery sound, the metal tines gathered colorful leaves together in an ever-growing pile as I pulled the rake through the lawn. It was rather musical: thin metal bands moving across the lawn, the gentle sound from the drying leaves as they moved. The sun was warm on my face in this late afternoon, the air crisp. Not cold; sweatshirt weather. I had come home on time from work this day, a rarity, with the goal of gathering up and bagging as many leaves as possible for the following day’s town collection. My property has several tall oaks, maples, cherry and other trees on it. Both the front and back lawns were covered with leaves of various shapes, sizes, and colors. Weather and work schedules had stalled this particular chore. I had two hours of daylight in which to get the job done.
The squirrels were my companions as I worked: chasing each other around the yard, burying acorns. As I quietly went about my task, I reflected on the changes in the trees through the seasons: the stark branches against the blue-gray of the Winter sky; the gentle buds and growing leaves in the Spring; the shade cooling the house and the yard in the Summer, branches catching the ocean breeze; the spectacular colors in Autumn. I became nostalgic, thinking about the changes in my own life and how precious time was becoming. My two children, now young adults, were almost independent. There were particular times in their childhood, especially the challenging teen years, when I thought the clock was especially slow, but looking back now it all seemed to go by so quickly.
My thoughts were interrupted when my son, Mike, returned home from a moving job and joined me with a second rake. Together we worked, side by side, me building up the pile, he taking them from the pile and placing them into the bag in the pail. Every once in a while, Mike would stop, put his foot in the pail and with a loud “crunch!” the leaves would compress making room for more. When the bag wouldn’t hold anymore in the pail, Mike would lift it up with a “whoosh!” compress it again, and fill it with more leaves. The full bag was tied, and then taken to the street for the next day’s pickup. During our work, we shared the events of our day.
It was a simple task, raking the leaves, repeated every autumn. At the end of leaf raking season almost 100 bags will be gathered. Finances didn’t permit a budget for a landscaper to do the job. Last year, when Mike was away at sea for the fall, I had done the job myself. This year was different: Mike was home from his duties as a Merchant Marine. I thought ahead to next year; with Mike possibly away at sea and me preparing for the GOEs hopefully in January 2015, I will need to figure out another way to get this done.
Luke 12:22-23 popped into my mind: Do Not Worry. “He said to his disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.” From Morning Prayer a gentle reminder: Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: Come let us adore him.
I was aware of God’s presence around me: in the companionship of my grown child, the dancing squirrels, strong trees and their colorful leaves, the warmth of the sun, the seasons. God has it all under control.
A sense of peace and an overwhelming feeling of joy suddenly came over me. I was grateful Mike was home safe after four months away at sea, grateful for the companionship and help with leaf raking. Mike being home was precious, a gift I don’t take for granted anymore.
I offered up a simple prayer: Lord, I thank you for the gift of family, for children and for the precious time we are able to spend together. I am grateful for the safe return of Mike, and ask you to continue to hold Kathy in your loving arms. I thank you for the gifts of nature, for the trees and the seasons; for the warmth of the sun on my face. Help me not to be fearful about the future, and to remember you are with me always.
© Diane L. Neuls DeBlasio 2013