Back when I was a chubby prepubescent young lad, part of my summer time chores was to mow the yard. I don’t remember exactly what age I started mowing, but for the sake of argument and to give myself someone “old man” points I’m going to say I started mowing when I was eight and I didn’t have one of those fancy riding lawnmowers either. No sir I had a clunky pull start push mower that weighed more than me and shot flames out of the exhaust (flames added for dramatic effect). Take that up hills both ways to school generation, there’s a new complainer on the block.
By the time I was 10 I was an expert yard mower I could take that mower so close to the trees in the yard that there would be no need for a weed whip. I was that good. However, in the far back corner of the yard was a small white pipe stuck out of the ground. My guess was that is was either part of the house’s sewer system or an underground missile installed by the homes previous owner. You know just in case the Russians decided to launch a nuclear missile we’d be prepared to fight back. The problem with the pipe was that is was tough to mow around, even for someone with mad crazy mowing skill like myself. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get the mower close enough to cut all the grass and I always ended up having to grab the string trimer to clean up the top of the missile silo.
One sunny afternoon, as the mower moved closer and closer to the missile, I started to do some estimation in my head. It appeared to my untrained eye that the pipe had slipped in the ground and was now level with the grass. Maybe I could just mow over the top of it and instead of heading for the trimmer after I mow, I could head inside for a little saving of the princess, Mario style.
I nudged the mower deck up to the side of the pipe. Drat too tall, guess I’ll have to get the trimmer. Then the clouds parted and angelic music filled my ears as an idea worthy of a Nobel Prize flashed through my brain. Tilt the mower deck back on the rear wheel and then lower it carefully on the top of the pipe. Genius, grass will be cut and won’t have to use the weed whip. I tilted the deck back and it appeared that my idea was going to work, that is until the blade lowered enough to make contact with the pipe.
The mower slammed to a halt as a bright white chunk of PVC shot out across the yard. I pulled the dead mower off the scene of the crime, revealing a mangle piece of pipe and grass clippings. Panicked I began to run in circles flapping my arms like a bird. Round and round I went as the gravity of the situation sank in. I had cut a pipe, broken the mower, and if my suspicions were true and the pipe really was a missile silo I could have also inadvertently caused WWIII to start. My Dad’s going to be so mad at me when he gets home.
I stopped running, sweat dripping down my arms. Okay Daniel what are you going to do? I said to myself. First, see if the lawn mower is broken, (a few quick pulls on the rope and it sputtered back to life) phew one thing off the list. Second investigate the pipe. I looked at the jagged edge of the pipe. Nope no way to fix this and I assumed that in order to fix this the entire pipe would have to be dug up. I only had 37.28 in my piggy bank, I wonder how big of a hole one can get dug for that price. I peered down the pipe to see if I saw the silver tip of a missile staring back at me. No such luck, the smell of sewer gas confirmed it was in fact a sewer pipe and not a sercret missile, unless it was a really stinky missile.
I somberly finished mowing the yard and headed back towards the house to await my fate. I lay on the living room floor and watched the clock on the wall slowly tick towards my D-Day. I knew I was in trouble, question was how much. In my head I was getting ready to pack my bags and live with my friend. He did tell me I would always move into his basement if I was ever in trouble. This was one of those times.
My stomach was in knots when I heard my Dad’s station wagon pull down the driveway. My heart sunk, I wanted to run, but had used up all of my running for day running around in circles and flapping my arms. I heard the door open I could see my Dad outside the kitchen window. Here he comes, I’m in for it now. The door knob turned and in walked my Dad.
“Nice job on the yard,” he said putting his keys on the table.
“About that, something happened when I was out mowing.” I figured it best to head this off at the pass and come clean. I had spent the entire afternoon awaiting my fate and now it sat before me.
“Oh yeah?” he replied, sounding an awful lot like Kool Aid Man.
“You know the pipe in the back yard?” I grew nervous, blurting out what came next in a single breath. “I hit it with the mower and cut it. I have 37.28 I can put towards digging it up. The mower broke too, but I fixed it. At least I think it’s fixed it still cut the grass after I hit the pipe, so it’s fixed. Unless it isn’t then use my $37.28 to fix the mower.” I braced for the command to leave the house or at least a brief bit of rage from my work tired Father.
“Oh well at least the yard is mowed. I have someone swing by and put a new cap on the pipe tomorrow. Wanna go play catch?”
That’s it, my entire afternoon spent worrying about replacing a pipe, moving in with a friend, starting WWIII, and I get a good job on the yard and game of catch. I scratched my head and went to grab my glove.
Like I did that afternoon many years ago, I have spent many hours living in shame and remorse for the sins I have committed against God. I have often thought that He will disown me, that what I have done is so bad that I should pack up my bags and move on. And yet, every time when I go to confession and ask for forgiveness for what I have done, my sins are forgiven. God in His infinite mercy grants me pardon for what I have done. I do nothing to deserve this grace, it is given freely all one has to do is ask.