The mysterious mower and human kindness.

It ended up being a fairly late night last night, and a fairly early morning this morning, and a fairly big day. I’m pretty tired, and I’m sitting here on my lounge listening to Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony and drinking beer and looking forward to the fact that tomorrow’s Friday, and sometimes four hundred-odd words seems a lot to write for this blog. According to the document on my computer entitled Blog topic plan, October, I should be writing something specific – but I’m tired, and drinking beer, and ready for an early night and a weekend.

So I’ll write about something else instead.

I got home just after six, tired and hungry and ready for my day to end and my evening to begin. When I pulled into my driveway, I discovered that there was a man in my backyard, mowing my lawn in the evening sunshine.

My first thought was to worry that I’d inadvertantly asked Andrew the Mowing Guy to come and attend to the admittedly rapidly growing lawn, in which case I’d very quickly have to find the money that such a job usually costs. My second thought was to worry that Andrew the Mowing Guy had simply taken it upon himself to cut my grass, in the knowledge that I’d very quickly produce the money that such a job costs. My third thought was that Andrew the Mowing Guy sounded younger than this man looked.

It turned out that the mysterious mower was my next-door neighbour, whom I’ve met only once, when his wife’s shirt blew off their clothesline and over the fence into my yard. He’d been about to mow his grass, he told me, when he noticed that mine needed cutting too. So he’d popped over to cut it.

There’s something quite stunning about human kindness. I actually found myself getting teary. For no reason other than to be nice (he wouldn’t even accept a cup of tea or coffee, let alone a beer, and he brushed off my overwhelmed thanks), my neighbour cut my grass, just because it needed doing. Just because that’s what neighbours do for each other. Just because he’s a gentleman, and a good guy. And when he’d finished, he just walked off, without even giving me a chance to stammer my thanks again. My hunch is that if I’d not caught him in the act, I would have got home to neat grass and not a trace of evidence as to who to thank.

Sometimes the darkness of human nature seems to defeat me: we live in a world where refugee camps are bombed, where torture and death are a searing reality in the lives of so many, where cruelty is such an everyday reality it often goes unnoticed. But we also live in a world where people still look out for each other, still extend a hand of friendship or assistance just because we happen to have humanity in common, where neighbours mow each other’s lawns just to be nice.

Not a bad world to live in, really.


A present from an unnamed person.

There is a group of women, whose names I don’t know, associated with the public hospital which serves the area. These women are volunteers, and spend their time knitting blankets and teddy bears. These knitted items are donated to, among other places, the local sexual assault support service. Survivors of rape and other sexual assaults who must talk about their experiences are given a blanket; child survivors are given a teddy bear. In this way physical comfort is given to people who otherwise must sit alone in what they have been through; people who have faced the darkness of human cruelty are reminded of the simple light of human grace.

Presented with a hand-knitted blanket, comforted by its softness and its warmth, I was moved to tears by some nameless woman’s act of pure kindness.

A person I will never meet spent time and energy – and love – knitting a blanket which is now spread out over my lounge. It reminds me that, in a world where such horrific violence is commonplace, there is also compassion and generosity and sharing and care. It reminds me of the beauty of the human spirit. It reminds me of the gentle, vulnerable, loving strength of the Creator Spirit which erupts in the world. It reminds me of warmth and colour in cold bleakness. It reminds me that, despite days which seem to have no redeeming feature about them, the world is a good place. It reminds me that it will all, somehow, be ok.

Plus it’s pretty.