The image is an electronic simulation I made at Mac’s property. It shows a morning watering of a lawn I sowed, at Mac's request, in his front yard. A psalm fragment (72:6-7 RSV) springs to my mind, though Mac never cited it.
He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth. In his days may righteousness flourish, and peace abound, till the moon be no more!
When I’d taken to mowing to earn some little resource Mac was there for me. His patronage was stalwart. Our service relationship caused a personal relationship to blossom, which grew into a deeper and wider experience for me, and which Mac seemed at ease with.
Over the course of the growing seasons, we’d walk the bounds of his property and it often felt like a ritual. For a modest home, set upon a steeply inclined lot, Mac’s property was complex, even difficult. Mac showed me his buried patio, a buried ivy covered path leading up the hillside to the street above his property, his landscaped water course, as well as his favorite plant and tree.
His prized plant, a wildflower, was a yellow trillium, in blossom when he showed it to me, in an unexpected location. The trillium had made its home nestled close to the base of a tree, shrouded by thick undergrowth of untended bushes, near the terminus of Mac’s landscaped watercourse, and near the base of the hillside, not 4 yards from the neighborhood street.
Another time, behind Mac’s house, at the almost opposite location from the trillium, up the hillside near the top of his property, among the ivy and tree covered hill, Mac pointed out a menacing downward tilting old growth oak, which, he was clear to profess, in his soft understated Virginian drawl, he and kept his eye on and contemplated. We circled around and around this ancient one, tramping down long strands of ivy, seemingly entwining our feet and legs to trip us up, then down, Mac, listing out, then leaning in, bobbing up our feet and legs while the ivy wove us into itself pulling us down so to cause a fall. He was correct to watch and assess the old leaning oak. If that oak had fallen of a storm it would’ve come down on his house.
Over many years from the tree covered hillside leaves fell into a 4 foot wide walkway placed between house and hill, the gravity of the hill’s weight held back by an old time brick retaining wall built into the hillside. The wall had been unseen, densely overgrown with years of ivy growth. The patio behind the wall had been covered over too, and underneath the ivy and leaves were the same sort of old brick to create a patio. I mucked out a foot of sodden accumulated years of leaf compost clogging the pathway and the drainage to the landscape water course.
One day after we’d walked his bounds again Mac fell 4 feet from his brick patio’s concrete ledge and nearly conked his head before landing on his right scapula and spine as well as scraping himself quite nicely. We were stunned, I by the rapidity his fall and he by the blow, and his body lost all muscular tension binding it. I cradled his head in my lap while assessing his consciousness, which he never lost. I insisted we stay put symbiotically linked in that mucked-out pathway for a good while. He had the good sense to do that. After a time, we went inside his house. I cleaned and dressed his wounds, rather, he permitted me to clean and dress his wounds. While we sat at his kitchen table, he kept trying to dust off the front of his light blue short-sleeved button down shirt and the legs of his mucked-up grey pants. Appearance mattered, and this was part of why he had hired me to mow his front lawn. I notified friends, and left him that day to himself in his house.
He often invited me into his house. We ate together, and we spoke with one another He reminisced of his house, back in the day it seems Eleanor Roosevelt stayed in that house when she visited Knoxville. He must’ve said this to me each time he invited me into his house. And he reminisced of his parents, as well as his time as a youth at Randolph Macon College, where his parents taught, and Jimmy Carter, for whom Mac had worked as an advisor during Carter’s Presidential campaign, and of his pride in his grandson, and I of my experience as a Connecticut Yankee in East Tennessee.
Later on, after I’d given up my lawn care service, we met regularly with others to ponder some spiritual text and then to meditate upon the false self within each of us.
My experience with Mac was like that of a son with his loving father. He chose to hire my service; he did not have to do that. His compassion fell like rain and his teaching distilled like dew, as droplets on fresh mown grass and as showers on sown field. He was as the light of a blue-sky morning, for a time without cloud, watching tender grass he’d sown spring out from the earth he’d tilled into rows and furrows. He watered his furrows abundantly. He settled their ridges. He softened them with showers. He blessed their growth. (Psalm 65:10, RSV)
8 Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the Lord have created it. (Isaiah 45:8 RSV).
So let us recall, press on, and let us sing to him his requiem, celebrating and remembering his abundance, as from heavens above. The moments we shared with Mac were as true and certain as the early morning star of light in darkened dawn sky and the early morning dew on field of grain.
I uphold Mac Simpson as a shepherd with us, and he shall feed us. Mac will be among the people, known and unknown some time longer. His kairos as showers on the earth and its grass and grain, which do not wait for women and men or delay like daughters and sons.
6 He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth.
7 In his days may righteousness flourish, and peace abound, till the moon be no more!