One Foot

One Foot

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Ivy Covered Wall & the WWJD Test

My imagined wall

You would think at my age I wouldn’t be facing any new temptations or troublesome situations, but sure enough, life presents them anyway.  I have been cleaning up the gardens and plantings this week after 11.5 inches of rain in the same amount of days. 
The back of my lot holds the drainage ditch for the local area – as it rains, the water is routed behind the houses, down the ditch and into the city drainage.  That ditch is along a grey, stark wall which has been my 2013 improvement project.  I planted mint for the bees and English ivy to crawl the wall and soften it.  All summer I have nursed the plants along with the understanding with the lawn crew that I would trim as needed in that area.  It all worked well.
Until the lawn company hired a new trimmer, who last weekend walked along with his ear phones on and cut all the plants to the ground.  As he left the area, he trimmed out two shrubs and put a three inch scar on a young oak tree.
When I came in from a long walk I could smell the mint – not a good sign.  I knew to expect trimming damage.  But when I saw my year’s efforts on the ground, I was so angry I shook.  I forced myself to sit down and tried to get calm before I picked up the phone to call the mowers.  “I will not swear, I will not swear, I will not swear,” I repeated to myself as I secretly thought of words I wouldn’t say.
My voice shook in anger as I explained what had happened.  I had personally trimmed, I had flagged, and I had put my ivy up the wall.  How could anyone be so stupid as to cut it off?  I think I repeated the phrase “I AM SO angry,” a half dozen times. 
I know the men on the crew and they were so kind in their response to me.  It was not their sincerity that I doubted, but I couldn’t help but recall that old 90’s movement called “What Would Jesus Do?” and it brought troubling thoughts relating to my anger.
Would Jesus have cared if someone chopped down the crop around his house?  Would he think us all misguided in our quest for suburban tranquility; advise us to focus on the “main thing?” Of course, Jesus had anger.  Scripture tells us about his anger at the moneychangers in the synagogue, his address to the Pharisees, etc.  But Jesus based his anger on what he knew to be right with the Lord.  It had little to do with something as minor as a few ivy plants.
Was I in control of my anger?  Yes, my visible presentation was of control.  But inside, I was angry at a man’s careless work, his lack of responsibility and certainly his lack of caring about the expense of his carelessness.  I seethed for some time.
And so I ask myself – “Did I pass the WWJD test?”  I don’t know.  My goal of achieving a more natural habitat for birds and animals in my corner of the world is honorable.  My anger at the man who destroyed so much I had worked for was probably justified.  But, I mustn’t let it deter me from the “main thing,” and placed in that context, this is but a small thing. 
Perhaps in my heart, I have some Indian belief – that we are all of this earth and that we must respect it and care for it.   It is a tangible way of seeing God and his creation. 
My anger must be temporary.  I have already replanted and already I feel better.

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