Cropped Grass

I went into the office for the first time in weeks last Thursday. I can do 99% of my job from home, and I have a decent home office. Check it out.

Where the (work) magic happens.

I know I’m not alone right now. A lot of us have found a way – or have jerryrigged an answer – to not heading to the office.

Anyway, the day was nice and slated to reach 90 degrees. I thought I’d get outside during lunch and walk the path around the Public Works campus. The sun was warm but it felt good. Trees had started to turn. The pond in front of the parking area, full the last time I saw it and the resting place for several bird species, was completely empty. The entire thing looked like an empty grassy bowl. Very few birds sang, though a hawk soared overhead, intent on his own lunch.

As I strolled along the gravel loop (no sense getting all sweaty as a shower was not happening), I saw the yellow house next to the pocket gopher area. I kind of love how the County has set aside this split-rail fenced in area for the Mazama pocket gophers to use. Because gophers can read, especially endangered ones. What? Your gophers are illiterate? Such troglodytes.

In front of the small yellow house lives a goat. He’s a billy goat, with 2 horns protruding from his white head. He’s familiar and shares the yard with a golden retriever. The goat eats constantly. In fact, I can’t remember a time when he wasn’t eating as I passed by.

Thursday was no different. He had cropped a large arc of grass in front of the back door to the house. It was shorn as short as if a mower had done it. However, 2/3 of the yard remained long. The goat was on his knees, munching the same area of grass that was already chewed down. It made me stop and look. Couldn’t he see the rest of the grass, long, lush and green, available to eat? Why keep going over and over the same short, semi-dry areas? Didn’t he want to sample some fresh new growth?

It reminded me of how we return to the familiar in our lives over and over again. It’s safe for us. We listen to the same music. We drive to work at the same time every day or cook meals on a regular schedule. We feed the animals and bathe the kids. It’s all routine. We do it over and over, looking for it to fulfill us. What’s the point of it all? There is nothing new under the sun. We start to lose hope and vision.

Honestly, friends, as Covid drags on and now the wildfire smoke keeping us indoors, I have struggled. The security of routine only offers so much. It’s hard to stay positive in the midst of it all, with news of looting, riots and contentious election year news. I keep doing what’s necessary to stay afloat, but discouragement sets in as nothing changes. Yet others struggled before me. The psalmist wrote in Psalm 42:

My heart is breaking
    as I remember how it used to be:
I walked among the crowds of worshipers,
    leading a great procession to the house of God,
singing for joy and giving thanks
    amid the sound of a great celebration!
– Psalm 42:4

They didn’t confront Covid back then and the subsequent restrictions on large gatherings, but the psalmist wrestled with seeing God in a rough season. He encouraged his soul to look to God. And we must, too.

There are pieces of this that fall under our personal purview. As for me, I’m learning to take better care of myself. I’m seeking out friends to spend time together. Getting regular exercise. Sleeping (though challenging). Eating well (read: less chips). Spending more time with Jesus, both in the Bible and in worship. Praying. But then…playing. Letting it all go and goofing off in a deliberate fashion, if that’s a thing. I don’t know that I’ve taken a good, deep breath instigated by peace in a long time. I need to do something new and remind myself of how good life really is, in spite of ongoing stressful circumstances. God is still good and He’s still in charge.

Why am I discouraged?
    Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
    I will praise him again—
    my Savior and my God!
– Psalm 42:11