"It is possible to do all righteous things with spiritual joy."
Many years ago I was living with a wonderful woman and her two delightful daughters, ages 7 and 14. One beautiful spring day soon after I moved in, mom and her oldest child were gone shopping. I was on my hands and knees in the back yard weeding, enjoying an excellent Saturday morning. I called out to 7 year old Sarah who was upstairs in her room. I said, "Hey Sarah, come on out to the back yard and hang out with me. Come weed with me." Sarah eventually came out and stood next to me and said, "Frank, I don't do weeding." I laughed. I have always loved her sweetness and her honesty. And I said, "Sarah, I'd like to teach you something about life. Are you open to hearing what I have to say?"
Sarah rolled her eyes like only a 7 year old can and said, "Well, okay - if you must." I smiled and said, "Darlin, it is possible to do all righteous things with joy. And righteous things include picking up the dog poop from the back yard, emptying the dishwasher, doing homework, going grocery shopping, folding the laundry, paying bills, and weeding. And the thing is, life is totally jammed full of these kinds of righteous things. So if you can do them with spiritual joy, life is pretty good. But if you piss and moan, grumble and complain about doing them, life is a real pain because life is totally full of these things."
So Sarah begrudgingly got down on her hands and knees next to me and slowly started weeding. After a short time I noticed that she was just breaking off the weeds and fooling around with the dirt and sighing regularly. So I said, "Sweetie, if you really can't do this with joy, I think I would just as soon you go back inside. She looked me, smiled and said, "Okay." She got up and quickly went back inside.
About an hour later, Sarah came back outside and looked around, came over to where I was still weeding, stood right next to me, reached down and gently put her hand on my shoulder and said, "Frank, I just want you to know you really are doing a very nice job." I laughed and said, "Well, thank you, Sweetheart. I appreciate you noticing."
I am no longer living with her, her sister, and mother. I am still close to the family and have just called to speak to her mom. I hear Sarah yelling from the back yard, "Who is it mom?", perhaps thinking it might be a boyfriend. Her mom yelled back and said, "It's Frank." Through the phone I hear Sarah yell, "Tell him I'm cleaning off the deck. And tell him I'm doing it with joy."
Sarah has moved on in her life and is no longer living at home. I am still close to the family and see the girls from time to time, especially around holidays. That year Sarah created a very poignant Father's Day card for me. She had drawn a picture of a little blonde girl in a garden - weeding. I opened it to see, "I'm doing it with joy." Happy Father's Day! Love, Sarah.
Sarah joyfully allowed me to use her name in this story.
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by Frank Robinson
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