Dan and the Serendipity of his Broken-down Mower

I am not mechanical to put it generously.  I usually just give up when anything mechanical/technology doesn’t work immediately.  Our new once-working, now not-working printer is a case in point.  But today it’s about our lawnmower.

Last year, we had our mower service at the local Eliot Small Engine Repair for $144.88.  With a short grass cutting season in 2020, I used the mower maybe seven, eight times.  As recommended, I ran the mower to remove all the gas from the engine and then stored it in our shed for the winter.

Gassed up for the first cutting of the spring, our mower works just fine cutting the grass in our backyard this May.  You see we only cut a portion of your yard since we have a meadow of daisies and black-eyed Susans by our driveway that I don’t mowing until August when the flowers go to seed.

Just before Memorial Day, I start up the mower again, make a couple of passes on the backyard, and then it chugs a couple of times and stops stone cold.  Today, I wait, pull the starter cord again and again, and nothing.

As you might imagine, I am at a loss what to do.  Well, that’s not exactly true.  I know that since today we are playing pickleball with our friend Fran, a mechanical wizard, I can bring the mower to him for a look-see.

And this is where good fortune smiles for the first time.  Fran is great.  He gets right to it, taking off the engine cover, blowing out all the dust, cleaning the air filter, and diagnosing that I likely have a dirty carburetor.  Now I know what I’m dealing with.

Even so, our backyard with foot high grass still needs a mowing badly.  With no mower, I text our neighbor Laurie to see if I can borrow theirs.  Soon, her hubby Shawn cleans up their mower, fills it with gas, and brings their self-propelling motor over.  Good fortune numero dos. 

After mowing our backyard, I am still left with a mower that won’t work.  I call Eliot Small Engine to learn that if I can take out the carburetor (yeah right, like that’s going to happen!), they can clean it for me.  If not, I’ll have to put my mower in the queue which means it’ll be six weeks before they can get to it.

Not wanting to wait that long, into our laptop, I type in “lawn mower repair.”  I find that Spectrum Small Engine Repair is just up the road in Wells.  I call, they say they can look at it, and it’ll take maybe a week, maybe less.  Good fortune #3. 

Told that I’ll see mowers in the front yard, I arrive with mowers strewn everywhere on this residential third acre lot.  I park, eventually find Nick, who couldn’t be more agreeable and accommodating. 

I have my third delightful human interaction, none of which I would have had without my beautiful broken-down mower.

Dan Learns of Antidotes to Fear and Worry

It’s not a deep dive to say these are challenging times.  Climate crises (not merely climate change).  The current president.  School shootings.  Polarization that eviscerates our nation.  White supremacy.  Poverty.

Antidote curiosity 3

Do these challenges have a way of overwhelming us to the point where spiral into worry and fear?

Justine Willis Toms speaks to me along these lines.  Curiosity is the antidote for fear.  Optimism is the antidote for worry.  Curiosity can support our understanding of our fears.  Optimism is its own reward.

Speaking of fear and worry, Hannah has a powerful question to put things in perspective.  When a certain mindset, habit, or behavior pattern distresses a friend of hers, she might respond, How is that (e.g. fear or worry) working for you?

Antidote optomism

I close with my guy of the heart – the Dalai Lama.

When someone asked him, Why are you so happy all the time, even while there’s genocide going on?  The Dalai Lama’s answer was simple: because it makes him feel better.  He said he doesn’t know how it’s going to turn out, so each day he’s just going to do what is right and good to do.

Hello Dalai, my kind of guy.

 

(Inspired by “Deep Dialogue” by Mallory Herrmann in the Unity Magazine (May/June 2019)

Dan and Hannah See the Face of God on Easter

Dan, are you and Hannah home?  And if so, could I stop by and have a few minutes?

That’s unusual.  We can go weeks without dealing with our neighbor who wrote this text.  Wondering if anything is wrong, I respond, We are in Pennsylvania.  Be home manana.  Once home, we don’t hear from him and I pretty much forget about it.

Then, on Easter morning I get the exact same text.  Though Hannah and I are just heading for a mid-day walk at the Ogunquit (Maine) beach, I text back, Now is a good time.

Our neighbor is the classic good guy.  When we needed a hide-a-bed sofa removed from an upstairs room, he and his son come right over and moved it for us.  He always greets us warmly when Hannah and I walk the neighborhood.  He is a devout Christian who truly lives his faith.

Rainbow our driveway

Waiting on our driveway, we see him approach.  He says, How are you?  I mention that we are just back from seeing our grandson in New York.  He smiles, and then breaks down in tears.  Whoa!

Hannah and I both step forward and give him a group hug; he cries and doesn’t say anything.  Hannah wonders if someone died.  I wonder is he getting a divorce.  Does a child or grandchild have cancer?

Composing himself, he says, I think you know how much my faith means to me.  I try to be a good neighbor.  It’s been on my heart that I’ve wanted to say this to you.  We continue to hug and listen and wonder.   He pauses, head down, composing himself.

He looks up and continues with a smile, I think you know we come from different political perspectives.  I should say so.

Rainbow flag

So, is this about the rainbow flag we have flying on the busy road in front of our house.  Does he want us to take it down?  My mind races further thinking that that’s going to be a problem.  Our rainbow flag is a symbol of our support for our LGBT sisters and brothers, who are our friends and yes, in our family.

Composing himself again, he says, You two were there when I needed you last fall. I want you to know how much that meant to me.  While he was recovering, we brought soup and biscuits to his family; sat with him as we listened to his story of how it all happened.  While he was recuperating, we gave him bread.

We continue to hug, and then he relaxes and seems at peace.  I just wanted to let you know how much you mean to me.  We smile at each other as he says, You know, I’m there if you need me.  As he always has.

And then as soon as he came, he’s gone – walking back down our driveway.

I look to Hannah and say to her, we’ve just seen the face of God.  This is what Rev Rich Knight meant when he said, When you see acts of kindness and acts of love, (similar to what our neighbor just delivered to us), you see the face of God.

So glad we were home when God walked down our driveway this Easter morning.