By John Hunt
I’ve found that nearly everyone has at least one arch nemesis in their lifetime. For instance, Superman has Lex Luther, Spiderman has the Green Goblin, and Oprah has Twinkies™. Then there’s me. I have the most insidious, nefarious enemy of them all. I have my lawn.
You may think lawns are benign, morally neutral entities, free from the duality that faces mankind. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Pure evil lurks in their chlorophyll veins, and just like Dracula, Frankenstein, or Simon Cowell, their maliciousness must be dealt with. Why, even domesticated ones can turn on you, and if left to their own devices, they most assuredly will turn back to their wild nature – I have scars to prove it.
As far as lawns go, mine went bad long ago. It’s a sad thing, really. Corruptive influences like crabgrass and dandelions started hanging around – I knew they were bad seeds from the beginning. At first, I tried to hide my dysfunctional lawn, to say I didn’t have a problem; but really, I fooled no one. It’s not as if you can stand in front of your house and say, "What lawn?" And they say admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery (I think the second step involves beating your head repeatedly against a brick wall). So, as my rogue lawn taunted me, I confessed the scope of my conundrum had reached beyond me. I needed help. I needed a miracle. I needed super powers.
I marvel at my neighbor’s lawn powers: His lush, green fescue, his finely-manicured walkway, his blooming azalea bushes – all meticulously guarded by carefully arranged lawn gnomes. He tames his yard with a mastery that rivals even the great Lawn Gurus. Yes, I had met my superhero. I had met my idol. I had met Lawnman.
An unwritten rule exists, which prevents me from asking Lawnman his secrets. It’s the uniform code of lawn warfare, and every single male in every sleepy subdivision across the entire world respects it. I had to ascertain my information in more discreet ways. I had to use subtle methods to find out my neighbor’s secrets. I had to spy on Lawnman.
"You must become one with the lawn," I overheard my neighbor lawn veteran say. "You must listen to the fescue."
My fescue had never, to my knowledge, spoken. Nonetheless, I decided this idea probably somehow deserved some merit. So, as I lay in the middle of the yard, braving mortal danger and all, my wife walks up to me and asks, "Whaddya doin’?"
"I am one with the lawn," I replied.
A week later, after I got out of the mental health facility, I began to discover my neighbor’s true lawn secret – he spent nearly every waking moment of every single day of the summer grooming his carpet-esque yard. At any given moment, night or day, one could see Lawnman faithfully spreading grass seed, individually plucking rogue sprouts, or straightening slightly askew lawn gnomes.
This, of course, was much more of a commitment than I wished to make, as you well could imagine. It did, however, bring up an interesting analogy.
In the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-8, Mark 4:1-9), Jesus talks about the sower who went forth to sow seeds. In today’s terms, a sower could be a farmer, gardener, or lawn-crazed neighbor. In Jesus’ story, however, the sower is the preacher of the Gospel, and the seed represents the Word of the Kingdom.
The sower went out to spread seed, and as anyone who has planted grass seed could tell you, not all seeds sprout into perfectly proper plants. Some fell by the wayside – like onto the driveway or patio – and birds came and devoured them. Others fell on stony ground – such as sidewalk cracks and gravel easements – which immediately sprang up, but then died because they had no root. Thorns and weeds choked other sprouts, while the remaining seed fell on good ground and yielded a lush green fescue.
Since spiritual weeds are plucked up by their roots and tossed into the fire, one naturally should desire to nurture a weed-free spiritual lawn. Therefore, to ensure a healthy spiritual life, a few spiritual lawn tips are in order:
First, one must plant the seed and be born of the spirit (John 3:5, 6). This can only come by yielding one’s life to Jesus Christ. (Acts 14:12, 1 Timothy 2:5).
Next, one should water the seed by studying and memorizing the Word of God (Ephesians 5:25, 1 Peter 2:2). Without knowing the Word, one cannot have faith (Hebrews 10:17) or resist the cares of the world (Psalms 119:11).
And finally, one should remain in the life-giving source of vitality through prayer, and fellowship with other believers (Hebrews 4:16, Philippians 4:6, 7, Hebrews 10:24, 25).
My lawn eventually improved, although not through any twelve-step program, or existential lawn rehab, or by any means of my own volition; it came courtesy of our local lawn service. And Lawnman? Well, he’s on to bigger and better things. He’s remodeling his house. Hmmm, I sense another metaphor.
John Hunt is a freelance writer and self-proclaimed lawn warrior who resides in sleepy suburbia near Chicago, Illinois. You can contact John through the letters’ page of this magazine.
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