On Mowing Your Lawn
By Jeremy Hausotter
May 16, 2021
One day mowing the lawn I got to thinking about the activity of mowing. In southern Texas it is a hot, sweaty and dusty job, and I would rather spend my time reading and writing than doing yard work of course. It was in this frame of mind I started thinking about mowing one’s lawn as a duty. I usually procrastinate mowing until the grass becomes tall, and this time was not an exception. There was a rather thick patch of fresh green grass that I struggled with, and after I had mowed it I saw some rather large cockroaches scurry away. Watching them seek shelter I realized that there is a duty to mow one’s lawn.
I am a father of three now with a beautiful wife. As a husband I have a duty to protect my home from the world. This is a primordial duty of man that we find its origin in Adam and Eve. Adam in Genesis 2 we are told was to till and reap the soil. In chapter 4 we are told that Eve is named “Eve” because she is the mother of all of the living. Paternity and maternity traces itself back to the pre-theological past of the first human couple. This identity of parenthood is an element of man’s existential status. Man, like Adam, is the protector of the home. In Genesis 3 Adam and Eve fell in part because Adam failed to fulfill his spousal duty as a husband to combat Satan in the Garden of Eden.
To mow one’s lawn is a practical application of this primordial duty of the man as a husband and father to protect his home. Man is to be a protector of the innocent and weak. Practically speaking, mowing cuts short the grass, thereby removing suitable habitat for cockroaches, spiders and snakes to hide within. By mowing I remove threats to my home through this simple task. Lawn mowing is one way I protect my family.
Failing to mow my lawn then, is a problem because now I am not living up to my male duty to be a protector. To mow my lawn is thus nothing other than a way of participating in God’s order. I am fulfilling a duty as a husband and father, and in doing so I am cooperating with God’s will. Mowing my lawn is therefore one element in me working out my salvation. As the Wise Wife of Proverbs 31 turns every daily chore into an encounter with Christ working out her salvation, so do I by mowing my lawn. Mowing my lawn is hence one manner of appropriating my faith into my daily life. The life of faith is in part the pursuit of imbuing every action and activity of mine with the light of Christ.
This is not to say of course that a woman cannot mow a lawn, but rather that the man has a special duty to be a protector and this one way this is accomplished is by mowing one’s lawn. Today we tend to forget that maternity and paternity have their own particular charism and duties. This is partly exemplified by the feminist movement’s desire to prove that a woman can do anything a man can. I do not deny women can do many things a man can and vice versa; however, such a trend threatens to blind us to the important pre-historical fact that masculinity and femininity have their own special content that each man and woman must embrace, explore, and live out. I learned on that hot Texas day that one way a husband does this is by mowing the lawn.
The Reaper by Winslow Homer