We’ve got a couple of rough scalawags that live behind us. These young hooligans dress shabbily (the family obviously has the means to dress them nicely, but shabbily is their choice of clothing attire), their friends are even rougher than they are. There’s a fight on the front lawn ever day or two (our yard goes the whole way through the block, their front yard faces our back yard), and those fights usually have 4 or 5 people standing around laughing…. it’s more “rassling” than “brawling,” really…. but….. still….. There’s often profane language from someone in this group of young ruffians. I have often wondered where their parents are, and why they aren’t teaching these rascals some respect!
So tonight, as I was struggling to get half of the back lawn mowed (I managed the front last night, and I’ll finish the rest of the back yard tomorrow night, health permitting), I was limping along….
Can I take a moment to point out that push mowers and canes don’t go well together…. and push mowers don’t provide all that much support for leaning on…. I mean… really…..
…As I was mowing the lawn tonight, across the back fence, I saw two of these young hoodlums, what…. swagger? Is that what the cool kids do these days? Two of these young punks swagger up to my back fence and… stare? Glare? I wasn’t sure…. They waited for me to turn the mower off and empty the bag.
Just then, as I’m struggling with the bag (those things are heavy!)… the older boy, the one dressed in a ratty black t-shirt and heavy, baggy jeans (it’s 80 degrees out) says something like this:
“I can’t help but notice that something is wrong with your… leg? It’s obviously hard for you to mow. Would you like me to do it?” His brother, I presume, who had walked over with him, said “I can help!”
All in that instance, my worldview (not for the first time) was shaken. These young men, these boys who play hard, who may be rough around the edges, noticed a fellow human being struggling with a basic task of life, and rather than stare, or turn their eyes away in shame, rather than wonder what to do; these young men came over to a stranger to offer their strong backs. The made it clear that the offer was standing, and it wasn’t just for tonight.
Who are these men? And who are their parents? Other than noticing them and their rowdy friends, other than seeing their parents come and go, I don’t know these people from Adam… and yet, here there are, offering to help a perfect stranger for no other reason than that they saw that he needed it.
Tonight, I was reminded that my personal judgments about the character of strangers needs to be challenged; I was reminded that, no matter how rough the state of the world, there is hope in the rising generation; I was reminded that there is decency, and goodness, and charity – even outside of those around me. I was reminded that a little goodness goes a long way.
I was reminded that I don’t need to be an old, crotchety neighbor, chasing kids off my lawn whilst shaking my cane… just because I feel old and crotchety, and have a cane.
I needed those reminders. The world has felt pretty dark for me for a while now, and I’ve wanted to just hunker down and protect my family from the enveloping darkness…. but there’s light out there still. I needed to remember that, and I need to seek it out.
Thank you, you young roughians. Thank you.
(DISCLAIMER: Some of the elements of the roughness of these boys was embellished, as was some of the extent of my judgmental-ness…. It’s story telling, after all…. I just don’t want you to think too hard on me after reading it….)