Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Think...It's a Little Thing to Do

Last week I set out to mow my lawn. I have a rather large lawn so even though I had gas in the mower, I knew I would likely need more. Rather than start the project and run out in the middle of the yard, I headed to the gas station with my five-gallon can, my mask, and gloves.

I usually put a few dollars worth of gas in the can. Two or three gallons. 

This is silly. I can save myself a trip by filling the can today. The can was on the ground in front of the gas pump. I smile at my cleverness and pump the can full. Brilliant!

Brilliant until I try to lift the gas can and put it back in the trunk of my car. Do you know how heavy five gallons of liquid feels on a hot summer day? We’re talking around thirty-plus pounds. It may not sound like much to you, but for me? 

I manage to put it back in the trunk then sort of pat myself on the back for not being wimpy.

I start the drive home when I begin to realize picking it up is one thing…picking it up and pouring it into the mower is another. I have a riding mower so the tank is pretty high.

What was I thinking? The problem is, I wasn’t thinking. 

When I was growing up, my mother had a poem she often quoted when I acted without thinking:

            It’s a little thing to do, just to think. 
            Anyone, no matter who, ought to think.
            Take a little time each day,
            Spare it from your work or play.
            Stop and think.

            You will find that men who fail
            Do not think.
            Men who find themselves in jail
            Do not think.
            Often trouble that we see,
            Trouble brewed by you and me,
            Probably would never be
            If we’d think. *

I grew to detest that poem. It was an admonishment for something I had done or failed to do. As a teenager I vowed to never say it to my own children. As an adult, I’m sure I broke that vow, couching it with “as your grandma used to say…”

Yet here I am, driving back to my house with a full five-gallon can of gasoline in the trunk of my car, saying the poem to myself. Kicking myself for not thinking this through. Trying so hard to be efficient, that I forgot how to be practical. 

I prayed for help. Yes, I seriously asked God for help. I was nearing my street when I met my next door neighbor heading out for his morning walk.

A wave. A greeting. An ask. 

Mark is a good man. After his walk, he easily carried the heavy can back to my shed and handily poured the gasoline into my mower. He didn’t laugh at me for not thinking this through. He helped. 

The morning was warming quickly so I started the engine and managed to cut the grass before the glaring sun made it impossible. As I mowed, my thoughts turned back to that poem.

            Often trouble that we see,
            Trouble brewed by you and me,
            Probably would never be
            If we’d think.

It seems 2020 has been a potful of trouble brewing:

            Politicians spew venom at each other.

            Some people wear masks while others refuse to do so.

And the biggie—the pot that has been brewing for centuries—the presence of systemic racism.

We all make mistakes. We all mess up from time to time. But if we
stop and think…If we ask for help…If we work together for the care and well-being of others and not just ourselves… then this world will be a better place.

After all, it’s a little thing to do just to think.

Think before speaking.
Think before criticizing.
Think before acting.

And begin each day asking God for help with it all.

* Origin and author of the poem is unknown. 


  1. This is how we learn. There's definitely a difference between efficient and effective. And I don't know about you, but it would've added insult to injury for me because I really, really HATE asking others for help. This is so stupid bc most of the time, they are delighted to help!

  2. I understand! However, in the interest of safety...for everyone...I deemed it prudent to ask for help. I've learned to do that since my husband died. And you're right. People appreciate being needed. I just try to never abuse that by becoming dependent.


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