Renewal and Raking Leaves

It’s early November in Kansas City and one of the best times of the year to be outside in the fresh air – watching the kids play soccer, enjoying a brisk walk, or raking leaves off the lawn.

About raking those leaves… It’s easy to see it as an exercise in futility. I rake, I vacuum, I bag and then more fall and I do it over again the next weekend. It goes on and on until they’ve all fallen and the tree branches lie barren until spring’s renewal.

When I think about it, the renewal comes long before springtime. Each fall weekend that I clear the lawn is a renewal for me. A reminder that I need to do these simple things over and over again to reach my goal of having a well-maintained home that my family can live in for many years to come.  This weekly renewal is not at all unlike my journey of faith.

As I was raking leaves today, I listened to Randy Hain’s Journey to Heaven: A Roadmap for Catholic Men. The was there too, helping me make a valuable connection that I’m compelled to share with you as I take a break from my labor.

That simple connection is that raking leaves weekly is as valuable for my home as daily prayer and reading, regular visits to the confessional, adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, and weekly meetings of That Man is You are for my soul. They are all necessary and need to be done regularly in order to reach my ultimate goal of getting my family to heaven.

When the lawn is neglected, the leaves form a blanket and many negative consequences result. The grass underneath is deprived of sunlight, the leaves and mulch in the landscape beds become inseparable, and drainage from the front yard to the backyard is hindered, which can damage my home’s foundation and lead to basement flooding – something I know too much about. More work and more investment is needed to get my home back looking the way it should.

When I devote less daily, weekly and monthly time to God, more time is left for unproductive activity. The devil is given an opportunity to move into the empty space and grab a foothold. I turn to things of the world for satisfaction instead of developing an interior life that leads to unspeakable joy and peace. The result is darkness and separation from , who I should always hold closest to my heart.

The lesson?

Keep raking those leaves and never get discouraged when new ones fall. The daily, weekly and monthly work of getting rid of the leaves develops the habits that pay dividends here and in the next life.

St. Joseph – Always Giving a Little Extra

In high school, my gym teacher told me something that has stayed with me all these years…

“Do what you’re asked to do – and a little extra.”

Easier said than done in our fast-paced, move from one task to the next world. I’ve followed his advice many times and I’ve not followed it many times as well. I’ve done a little extra for a customer and had it completely backfire on me, too. Still I haven’t forgotten what he told me.

Perhaps I discovered the source of his advice while listening to Catholic Answers Live Podcast last week. I believe it was a Answers Minute commercial during the broadcast where Father Vincent Serpa discussed St. Joseph, the father of . He said St. Joseph was obedient to the laws of Moses, even though God himself was living under his roof. He also said St. Joseph, along with our Blessed Mother, brought Jesus to the temple to be presented to the Lord, as was the custom for every first-born male child. He didn’t need to do this either because Jesus was not born into sin, did not need mortification, nor the renewal of holiness that circumcision brings.

St. Joseph set an example for us by doing a little extra to insure Jesus could  fulfill, “a pledge of his future perfect obedience to the whole law, in the midst of sufferings and temptations, even unto death for us.” Surely we can all try to give that little extra to show God we love Him and our neighbor.

Thanks to Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary for the quote.