By Tom Joyce
August 17, 2013
There’s no doubt we are living in uncertain times.
After all, there’s been bloody violence in Egypt, tornadoes striking Oklahoma, Moral Mondays in Raleigh and a major issue here at home fueled by record rainfall: whether or not to mow on Sunday.
I’m sure when Moses got the 10 Commandments, there was an 11th one on a stone tablet that he undoubtedly dropped and broke while making his way down Mount Sinai. In addition to the well-known rules of life such as “Thou Shalt Not Kill” and “Do Not Betteth On The Braves In The Playoffs” is this long-lost commandment:
“Thou Shalt Not Moweth Thy Lawn On The Sabbath.”
This was apparent to me from an early age growing up in Southwest Virginia. However, I never fully grasped the reason why — though I knew it was rooted in the idea of resting on the seventh day of the week and keeping it holy. Also, Sunday is supposed to be a quiet, reflective time — unencumbered by the obnoxious roar of a Briggs & Stratton.
On the other hand, no one objects to people riding Harley-Davidsons on the Sabbath, perhaps the noisiest devices known to mankind, so go figure.
But as far as work is concerned, I’ve never understood where the line is drawn.
After all, it is perfectly OK for Mom to cook Sunday dinner (all you ladies understand what a chore that is), or the laundry to be done.
Meanwhile, touching that lawn mower is absolutely verboten. This is despite the fact I have never seen a verse in the Bible specifically referring to mowing on Sunday.
I remember that this issue was hotly debated during the 1990s when The Mount Airy News published a regular column called “Speak-Up,” in which readers could vent their opinions on various topics. It was the 1990s equivalent of a modern-day blog.
People seemed bitterly divided on whether Sunday mowing was an acceptable practice in “modern” times. There was the more-liberal camp who said that with homeowners being pulled in all directions nowadays, they were allowed a little flexibility to mow during whatever time was available — even Sunday.
Then there was the ultra-conservative side who said those who do so are sacrilegious card-carrying terrorists. Worse yet, that people who undertook that practice would wind up in hell. (Of course, these same folks criticize someone for letting their grass get too tall.)
Being one of the many people who are faced with having to mow a yard, I’ve struggled with this dilemma myself over the years. I’ve always thought it best to not do so on Sundays, despite having a weird newspaper schedule — just to avoid the possibility of offending neighbors, or worse, the Big Guy upstairs.
Until this summer, that is — when constant rainfall has been like steroids to blades of grass, which seem to bust out with green chlorophyll-laden muscles practically overnight.
This need to mow regularly has taken a toll not only on me, but equipment, in addition to delivering a blow to my spirituality when I recently ventured to the dark side.
It started innocently enough on that fateful Sunday due to making some repairs that required taking my mower apart. Jobs like this are what us do-it-yourselfers live for. On that particular weekend, I had meant to tackle the task on Saturday, but it rained off and on the entire day (sound familiar?).
Anyhow, after taking everything apart, fixing what was broken and miraculously putting all the screws and parts back into place, I naturally had to see if it worked, right?
And when firing the machine up and surprisingly not having it explode in my face, I then found myself making a few practice cuts — while also crossing that proverbial point of no return without really realizing that.
Before you could say “nothing runs like a Deere,” I had made several swipes back and forth across the lawn and soon the entire thing had been mowed. It was as if some powerful force had overcome me and wrested the controls from my hand.
Afterward, though, I had an unmistakable feeling of guilt. “What have I done?” I repeated over and over while rolling around in the fresh clippings, hoping to wake up and find it was all a bad dream.
It had happened, though, so I got up, brushed myself off — and came to grips with what had occurred.
And upon applying logic to the situation, I realized that maybe those feelings of guilt were largely unwarranted.
I believe most people try to do the right thing, including obeying the law and their religious teachings. However, there is also a school of sound reasoning that says extraordinary times require extraordinary measures.
When faced with abnormal conditions, such as rainfall seemingly every day this summer, a person might be inclined to do things they normally wouldn’t. This certainly can include mowing on the Sabbath, considering the alternative of waiting a few days and being faced with a veritable jungle of thick turf.
I came to the conclusion that if God doesn’t want people to cut their lawns on Sunday, He shouldn’t let it rain so much on Saturday — or any other day for that matter.
Tom Joyce is a reporter for The Mount Airy News. He can be reached at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.