Reseeding the Lawn: Management or Mystery?
This Fall, I’m going to reseed my lawn. This time, I really mean it. Last year I kept putting it off. “It is still too hot.” “I don’t want to start all that watering just yet.” “Oh, the leaves are down.” “Oh well.” Then, it was winter. But the calendar turned round and here we are again.
I already bought the seed – which wasn’t easy. All grass seed isn’t the same anymore. Do you buy the ‘Turf-Building’, the ‘Quick-Lawn,’ or the ‘Grassology-Seed’? Apparently, seeds can’t just fall off the stalk – no, these seeds are engineered, they are techno-seeds. I chose the ‘Smart-Seed 4.0.’
There was a diagram on the outside of the bag. It shows a cutaway of an individual seed with several layers of water-retaining, nutrient-enriching layers. This seed is designed to grow. When 5.0 comes out next year, I might even be able to control the height and color from my iPhone.
Anyway, I am ready to plant. Yet I hesitate.
Sowing seeds, even techno-seeds, seems risky to me. All that work, all that money and then you just throw it on the ground? Yes, I can lime, aerate and water. But after that, it is up to forces beyond me. I will walk the yard, waiting. I will sit on my porch, helplessly. Honestly, it’s like watching grass grow. But despite my fear, I forge ahead.
At first, I like it. I feel in control. I am wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sitting astride a John Deer mower, pulling a geared, twirling spreader. Zoom, Zoom, clickety-clack and spin. I push pedals; I pull levers. The seed drops through the calibrated slot and is flung in a wide even circle. Yes, I am really doing something. Behind me, the sunlight glances against thousands of seed in midair. And then? And then they disappear into the existing (albeit thin) grass. I stop the mower, get down on my knees, and search for my expensive techno-seed. Helpfully, they are dyed a blue-gray color. They lie scattered like Civil War soldiers dying on the battlefield. I get back on the mower. Eventually, all the bags are empty, the seed is gone and I walk away. The diagram on the front of the bag looked so mechanical, precise even. It implied a straightforward process. But you cast those tiny slivers onto the ground with water and everything begins to look a lot muddier.
That’s the way it is in all of life. There are things you can control and there are things you can’t. We live on the border of those two realms; the sowing realm and the growing realm.
In the sowing realm, you have a measure of true control. You plot and plan, you make effort, you make choices. You can buy a tractor, engineer a contraption to fling a seed in a circle. You can pump water to it. Above the ground, there are options for control. Above the ground, you manage what you do. Happily, there are things you can control. Yes, it is sweat and work, but there is also joy, the sense of impact, of accomplishment. This realm, this special realm of controllable things is granted to to us by God. It is a good realm.
The growing realm in the realm of things outside your control. Here, instead of exerting control you exhibit faith. Above the ground, there is a true degree of management. But under the ground it is all mystery. Management above; mystery below. We can diagram a seed and wrap it in coatings. But we cannot cause the sun to rise nor make the seed burst upward for life. The yearning for life is contained in the seed. It has ‘a mind of its own’. You can sow a seed, but you cannot grow it.
Above the ground, there is a certain kind of joy in work, expressed in effort. Below ground, there is a certain kind of joy too, but it is expressed in worship. We witness the miracle of germination, we take in the green of photosynthesis. Our response isn’t accomplishment, but astonishment. We feel gratitude between our bare toes.
Sowing and Growing
There are things we can control and things we cannot. This is true about reseeding the lawn. But it is also true about raising a child, leading a group, or exercising your talent. It is a God-given privilege to design and plan your sowing. Knock yourself out. Broadcast your love-work in a wide circle. Feel the dignity of management in the things you can control. But after that, watch and wait for the mystery of growing.
Feel the gratitude down to your toes.
Roger Edwards joined The Barnabas Center in 1991. In addition to counseling individuals & couples, Roger teaches & leads discussion groups about applying the Bible to everyday life. He is a licensed professional counselor, holds a master’s degree in biblical counseling from Grace Theological Seminary in Indiana & earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from UNCC. He is married to Jean, and they have seven children.