Friday, August 2, 2013

Rest for the Weary

For my folks 60th anniversary, many of us chipped in for a gift certificate to a landscape company. My folks find it increasingly impossible to keep up with their yard, though it was magnificent in its day. In fact, I got married in my deeply forested back yard, walking to my dear husband down a path made by my mother, lined with wild flowers all lovingly transplanted by my mother. She had also made a front yard island, filled with pachysandra that she had planted herself, after weeding and molding the island contours, lining the edge with shale she had found and brought piece by piece from the nearby woods. Everything is a little overgrown, though not badly. We assumed they would just have the landscape company spruce it all up.

My dad, upon receiving the gift certificate, said he would like to make a little spot near the curb where passersby could stop to rest. He himself, with triple bypass surgery a few years ago, finds it difficult to follow the doctor's orders and go for walks, because when he tires, he cannot sit down. He felt it would be a spot of kindness along the route many neighbors pass to find a seat where they could settle down, and gaze upon flowers all around them. He even wrote to the neighborhood association and asked if it could become a neighborhood project. He found bulk adirondack chairs on sale, and plotted how they could be dispersed throughout the neighborhood to complete his gentle vision.

So they met with the landscape company and asked them to build an inviting spot by the curb, with flowering plants and dogwood trees, and a path leading to a bench. They would put up a little sign to any who grew weary: Rest Awhile. My parents and I sat on their porch watching the yard slowly transform as the workers ripped up grass, planted flowers, placed the dogwood, settled the bench in place, mulched, and made a gravel path leading to the place of rest.

When the lovely enclave was finished yesterday, it was magnificent. It was so beautiful and well-crafted, with not a pebble or plant unplanned, that it became glaringly obvious that Mom's original island of pachysandra needed work. So I began weeding and clearing the overgrown clumps of grass from her shale outline. I urged Dad to buy dark mulch that matched the new resting island. Today I will rip up the remaining weeds and lay down the mulch. I think the dark mulch will unify the two islands to make the front yard a pleasing and harmonious composition of tranquility.

My folks are in their 80s. They are slowing down, and things are not nearly as easy for them to do as they used to be. Yet, here they have single-handedly inspired a thing of community goodwill and beauty that I hope might just catch on.

And I love the sentiment. To me it is more than an offering to rest tired feet. The motivation reflects a kindness of spirit that speaks of the Divine. It reminds me that we bear so many wearisome burdens that we were never meant to bear alone. There is rest for the weary that far surpasses any physical relief. It is rest for the spirit, for the soul, in the only One worth resting in. I would change the message on the stone that will lie at the front edge of the path.

I think the stone should say:
"All who are weary, I will give you rest."

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

-save a dog-

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