Investing sweat equity



Near the end of August my husband, Jerry, and I decided to move forward with a project that we had been discussing for quite some time. For 35 years we trimmed the evergreen shrubs around our house; but they were so large now that it was nearly impossible to trim them effectively. Once we made the decision to move forward with the project, there was no turning back.

With chainsaw in hand, Jerry began to cut the shrubs into manageable pieces to be hauled away. Then there was the daunting task of digging out the root system of each shrub, which involved a number of tools including shovel, axe and grubbing hoe.

The next step was to make a decision for replacements. While we dug out all the evergreens, there were a few flowering shrubs added over the years that we decided to try to save, even though the evergreens had overpowered them, leaving them odd-shaped and spindly looking. There were also a few perennial plants that we transplanted to a better location. Then we set off to buy plants to fill in the rest of the spaces.

The project continued with the new plants being planted strategically according to sunlight and spacing needed for growth. These were placed amidst the plants we had left in place and those transplanted. The planting session was followed by hours and hours of hauling wheelbarrows full of rock to cover the ground around the plants.

Through all the sweat equity we invested, we are really enjoying the pleasing new visual look of the landscaping and very much anticipate watching the plants grow and bloom. We realize though that the project really hasn’t ended, but in fact has just begun. All the plants are going to need care: watering, pruning, pest control, disease control and so on — not to mention, despite our best efforts, that sadly, we may lose a few plants along the way.

As with our landscaping, in life there are times we see the need for change. In fact, change is an unavoidable part of life. Sometimes change comes unexpectedly, but at other times we can see the need for change as was the case with our landscaping project. Things won’t change unless we dig in and get dirty with the investment of some “sweat equity.”

Here in our country we do not have to look far to see that more than a few things need to change. The division we are experiencing on so many levels is one of the most disheartening things I have witnessed and experienced in my lifetime. Like those overgrown evergreens around our house, evil is trying to choke out the good through violence, name-calling, finger-pointing and drama not worthy of the stage.

We can all see that things need to change. Perhaps a good start would be to ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, both as individuals and as a Christian community. Whatever answer we are given, one thing we can be certain of is that we are going to have to invest some “sweat equity” and start chipping away little by little until we get to the root of the problem. Like our new plants that needed to be strategically placed for sun and spacing, we must find the right times and places to say and do whatever God calls us to say and do to eradicate the violence, name-calling, finger-pointing and drama. Also, like the plants we are trying to save, we will have to do our best to seek out what is good and nourish that so it may continue to grow and flourish. The “sweat equity” we invest to heal the division in our country will be an ongoing project. We cannot let our guard down.

Let’s all do some serious soul-searching as we call upon the Holy Spirit to guide us in our efforts to, at the very least, begin to help our country heal from the divisions that are tearing us apart. We can all do something. Whether called to pray, to speak or to act, we must listen closely as we seek God’s guidance and be willing to invest our “sweat equity” in whatever the Holy Spirit may ask of us … remembering all the while that our “project” has not ended, but only just begun.

Brenda Hopf is a member of Divine Mercy Parish in Dubois County and also contributes to the “Sharing the Load” column in The Message.