I always enjoy the ordered beauty of a well-tended lawn. There is something restful about it. My neighborhood has lots of different degrees of orderliness as far as lawns are concerned; some are small, immaculate and tidy, some larger with a more landscaped look, a couple filled with all kinds of kitschy figurines, and quite a few that look forlorn –junk on the porch and in the lawn, and only the bare minimum of mowing done.
In a way, the lawn is a reflection of something about the occupants of the home. Of course, an un-mown lawn does not necessarily mean the person in the house is a lazy slob, and a well-groomed lawn may only mean the person in the house is obsessed with outward appearances, not that he or she is a good person. But it does reflect something. Some process of thinking, or some life circumstance, has led the person in charge of such things to decide either to spend his time/effort/money on lawn care, or not.
The fact of it is, order and upkeep of anything requires some kind of effort, some kind of investment. And another fact is, order brings a sense of peace and satisfaction to the world, even just the world of my street, and that sense occurs whether the order comes from expensive landscaping or simply keeping things in their proper place.
Which brings me to our kids: They have a world of chaotic growth going on within them–and it’s good
! They are often exploding with energy and ideas and determination, things they want to learn and experience, things they want to consume, or even to destroy. What they don’t possess naturally is order; they don’t have the ability to regulate themselves and their desires, to fit themselves into the world around them without sometimes (or often) being disruptive, and without this order, there can be no peace, for them or for us, or for anybody within fifty feet!
Wendell Berry said, “Order is the only possibility of rest.” The Bible speaks of the Messiah bringing an increase of government–government–and peace!
Government and peace go together–I’m pretty sure that is not a reference to what goes on in Washington D.C., but to a proper ordering of things. When things are in order–closets, drawers, lawns, emotions, relationships–we experience peace.
We know this, or we wouldn’t mow our lawns, you know? Unruliness must be tamed, chaos must be put in order, and children must be taught and trained in order for there to be peace and rest.
“Children must be taught and trained in order for there to be peace and rest.”
That’s why we’re here, parents–it’s our job to help our kids learn to order their impulses, to curb their destructive tendencies, to channel their energies–to govern themselves. Like gardeners, we are given the task of mowing and trimming and planting and watering these little chaotic gardens, and it’s a tough job that requires quite an investment of time, effort, and money, just as lawn care does. The investment we make (or choose not to make) will be visible to everybody, and it will reflect something of the gardener, first us, and then as they learn to tend their own gardens, it will reflect something within themselves. One day, may these little gardens–so chaotic now– bring a sense of things being in order, of beauty, of peace to everyone they meet.