November 8, 2011

Joy in the Task at Hand

Raking leaves isn’t really hard
Because all I do is rake the yard.
I put them in a big, neat pile
And then I play in them awhile.
I throw them here and throw them there
Until they’re scattered everywhere.
And then I rake them up once more
Because to me, it’s not a chore!
                       Colleen Sweeney, Age 11

Late Autumn in southeastern Wisconsin brings the first heavy frosts to the early morning landscape, and Autumn winds bring down the last of the colorful leaves from the treetops.

During the warm seasons here, I work as a landscape designer, creating beautiful landscapes for homeowners to enjoy. This time of year, we do landscape maintenance work, which includes pruning and LOTS of leaf removal.

Many varieties of hardwood trees grow in this area, and we enjoy their leafy coolness in the summer and gorgeous displays when the leaves change color in the fall. It’s as if the forests and hills have been painted with the Artist’s brush, in reds and yellows and the brilliant oranges of the sugar maples.

Raking bright, crunchy leaves we reveal the deep green grass hiding underneath. And while I work, the little poem written above has been running through my mind. It seems it begs to be shared. Written decades ago, I am surprised to find it still lives in its entirely in my memory.

As the hours of raking wear on, I wonder when does this work become a chore? Raking and hauling and stomping down the leaves into the trailer for hours really is hard work! But this little rhyme kept running through my brain making me smile amidst the toil. If I have to work, I prefer to be outside in the sunshine with the breeze on my face watching more leaves falling from the treetops against an azure sky.

I thank God for giving me the strength to work, for the beauty of the day and the warmth that the sun still holds. Setting down the wheelbarrow, I pause and raise my face to the sunlight, close my eyes, and remove my hat for the breeze to cool my head. This is good work. It makes me healthy and strong. And very, very tired!

It helps to find joy in the simplest tasks, and to acknowledge a feeling of accomplishment when a project is finished. Whatever it is you do, take time to thank God for giving you the knowledge, strength, intellect and confidence to do your work well. Ask Him to walk with you throughout your day, and share a conversation of joy in the simple things you find. Pray for strength when you feel weary and He will see you through.

Each day holds special moments for you to find, and each season offers beauty to behold. Every moment offers a chance to be thankful. Take in the sights and smells that are unique to this season. All too soon, the fall colors will be gone along with the sweet smell of the damp earth.

Relax, breathe and be grateful for the life that lets us appreciate a glorious fall day.

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