Real Help for Real Living: After 74 bags of mulch I stopped sinning

Anthony MarcianoThis past June, my daughter got married.  With family coming in from New Jersey, I planned a family picnic at my house on the day after the wedding.  It all sounded good until I remembered my cousins and Aunt Mickey had never visited my home nor would there ever be another opportunity for them to see it again. It needed to look perfect.

As I examined the house, the gutters were black and there was some green mold on the trim.  They needed to be pressure washed. When it was done, the house looked amazing.

The grounds needed work. I began trimming trees that had never been trimmed.  In addition, we pulled out over forty bags of leaves from the property.  My neighbors thought I was moving.

I bought 12 bags of mulch and spread it out. You couldn’t even see it.  I went back to the store and bought another 18 bags.  More impact but a lot more needed to be done.  Another trip netted another 18 bags.  Now I was up to 48.  Things were starting to look better, but not perfect.

There was a piece of the property that looked “natural” (code for overgrown and never mowed).  First I mowed it and then raked out the leaves.  It needed mulch.  Another 18 bags brought us to 66 bags. The backyard area needed mulch too.  Eight more bags brought the total to 74. Each time I went to buy more mulch I got a funny look from the cashier.

The front door had not been painted in 19 years.  We painted it.  The mini bench on the front porch next to the newly painted door was in shambles.  We dismantled it, saving only the legs, rebuilding it with new lumber.  We then painted it with two coats of paint, the same color as the door.  It looked good.  We painted the front railings as well.

The swing chair also needed painting.  We sanded it and applied three coats of paint.  Then to be sure burrs didn’t snag anyone’s clothing, I wet sanded it with 2000 grit sandpaper.  I also replaced the light on the back of the house that had rusted.

I joked to myself, “Aunt Mickey had better appreciate three full months of work every weekend.”

After purchasing 74 bags of mulch, it occurred to me; I knew Aunt Mickey very well.  Her love for me wasn’t dependent on whether my property looked like something out of “Better Homes and Gardens”. She just loves me.

Lewis Smedes in his book, “Shame & Grace” says this – “Grace is the beginning of our healing because it offers the one thing we need most: to be accepted without regard to whether we are acceptable.  Grace stands for gift; it is the gift of being accepted before we become acceptable…Grace overcomes shame, not by uncovering an over looked cache of excellence in ourselves but simply by accepting us, the whole of us, with no regard to our beauty or our ugliness, our virtue, or our vices.  We are accepted wholesale.  Accepted with no possibility of being rejected.  Accepted once and accepted forever.  Accepted at the ultimate depth of our being.  We are given what we have longed for in every nook and nuance of every relationship.”

I stopped buying mulch.  Seventy-four bags were enough.  Aunt Mickey came to my house the day after the wedding.  I told her about all the work I did.  She laughed and told me I didn’t need to do that.  She accepted me and loved me unconditionally.  So does God.