One of the most beautiful sights of the changing seasons is the colors of the leaves as they surrender their position in the heights of the limbs to finally settle to the ground. Throughout my life I was blessed to see the trees all over our yard bloom and then give up their foliage signaling the start of another wintery season in Wisconsin.
We had an apple tree, a plum tree, a beautiful birch and an absolutely huge weeping willow that annoyed We Energies who came out to trim it almost yearly because it seemed to have no end.
I don’t know what the trees did to her but my mother went on a tree-killing safari in our yard over the last five years. I was told the trees had been looked at by a tree doctor so said they were terminal, I personally would have preferred a second opinion but nevertheless the trees were cut down. Now the bulk of the remaining trees that we have on the property are evergreens that resemble enormous Christmas trees. Gone is the collection of yellow, orange and amber leaves that used to rest throughout our lawn.
I definitely did not miss the raking that comes along with leaves and for several days after the of the falling of leaves began I shook my head at the thick, yellow mounds of leaves that blanketed my neighbors lawns. I could almost visualize the hours they would spend stuffing leaves into the brown refuse bags that only get collected at special tiAmes when yard waste is picked up.
Over those initial days I looked at our lawn and saw that it was clean, crisp, mowed, and green. It did not require any raking and it was still eye appealing. The admiration of the lawn faded over the next few days when I noticed that our lawn suddenly had yellow leaves scattered about. These were leaves from trees we did not own. Leaves from other yards and leaves that our neighbors did not bother to rake and contain once they had fallen from their trees. Now their maladjusted busy schedules, laziness or lack of concern for their own yard was presenting problems for my yard. Their leaves were making it necessary for me to clean up a mess that was not my own. What was the point of executing our trees if we were going to have to rake anyway? Further I pondered, “What makes my neighbors think that if they don’t have time to rake their own leaves that it should be my job to rake them on their behalf after they blow in my yard?”
It is almost as if some of our neighbors are unaware that the condition of their yard will ultimately affect the condition of the surrounding yards. Likewise, none of us can be under the false impression that our lives and our actions only have a personal impact.
God calls us to be concerned about our neighbor and our neighborhood. We cannot call ourselves Christians and turn a blind eye to the ills of society and the injustices being faced by countless others on a daily basis. Proverbs 31: 8 says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” We are further reminded in Micah that God does have requirements for our lives. Micah 6:8 reads, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
God is calling for us to take an active role in the affairs of this world as we actively wait to be translated to the next. God has a plan for your life and the lives of those around you. You being your best empowers someone else to do the same, likewise, choosing to fail has a ripple effect on your house, your community and society as a whole. In other words, your yard affects my yard.
This week, show that you care about more than your yard – clean up your own yard then extend yourself to assist a neighbor who may have some “leaves” blowing in your yard.