I’m mowing the lawn in my bare feet this afternoon. If my mother knows, she’ll do nothing short of strangle me with the laces from the shoes I’m not wearing. But she’ll have to find them first; I can’t seem to.
The grass is long and the tips of the blades prick the soft bottoms of my feet. I can feel the ends bend inside my arches, where the calluses haven’t spread to cover. It doesn’t hurt; the blades are weak to the weight of my feet. But, I feel the crushing motion when I step. It feels like I’m destroying something.
The grass is long. I waited an extra day, waited for the lawn to dry after yesterday’s morning rain. So, I raise the blade before starting and the grass clumps in loose piles at the end of every row anyhow. The piles don’t cling tightly together, wet and stubborn like summer snowballs, so I kick them with my toes as I walk with the mower. Up one row, down the next, spraying grass in little bursts with the swing of my bare foot. The grass makes light and dark passes, a little bit like a golf course fairway. I miss a few blades because I’m careless and daydreaming. I step into a puddle in the corner of the yard, where the soil dips low and retains water. It squishes between and over my toes; the moist earth feels foreign to my foot and I draw it away, wiping it on the freshly trimmed blades of grass. It dries and I mow on.
When I’m finished, I store the lawnmower away in the shed and throw the tennis ball in the air so Toby can fetch it and run in circles around me. When I stand at the sliding door to go inside, I stop and finally see the condition of my feet. They are marred beyond recognition from my journey through this green-giving lawn. The calluses are fighting hard to retain their fleshy tone and only glow with a faint jaundice. But the soft arches are fighting a losing battle to the inky residue released from the bleeding blades of grass; they’re patchy and growing green, the color creeps up the sides of each foot, threatening to take over the lower half of both legs. And the most alarming stain is on the front end of all ten toes. The green of the grass has built up so densely, green on green on green, that the skin which wraps around my toes is completely black with the soot of this freshly mowed lawn. Such a good thing, such a fresh summer scent, a refreshing exhibition of new growth – it all clings so lifelessly, so dark like soot to my bare, diseased feet.
And while washing my blackened toes doesn’t lighten the stain, erase the dark mark of my rebellion, return my feet to their fleshy, pink color of clean, I wonder still, as I have been this week, about how any good thing can be ruined by these scars of sin.