Thursday, August 27, 2015

Keeper of the Grounds

His name is Sr. (Señor) Gallegos, and every couple of weeks for the past three years (as long as we have lived in our home), he has cut and trimmed our front yard—free of charge, without expecting anything in return.  A man in his sixties, he is the father of one of our neighbors, and also cares for his son's lawn.  If you're anything like me, or how I used to be, you're wondering, "What's the catch?" or "Why is he doing that?"

In the beginning, I asked myself the same questions.  Seeing him has been one of the highlights of my children's week.  "Hey, pretty boy!" he greets my son, with his limited English and big smile.

"Say, 'hola,'" I coach my three-year old.

Not to be left behind, my 18-month old daughter yells, "Hiiiiii..."

"Hey, bonita (pretty)!" he responds.

And we converse—about the weather, and life.  He asks the children how they are doing and gives them high-fives.  "Mira, el futuro presidente (look at the future president)," his favorite reference for my son.

We all smile, and I come inside with the little ones, while he gets to work on cutting the grass.  He wears a white shirt, with an opened button-up on top, jeans and a cap that protects his dark skin.  Sometimes, the highs are near 100 degrees while he works outside.  And he works without complaining, encouraging me to go inside because, "es muy caliente (it's very hot)."

He makes our house and our neighbor's look very good, like some of the best on the block.  He was very careful initially, asking me to check with my husband to see if he wouldn't mind Sr. Gallegos cutting our grass.  Of course, my husband didn't mind and welcomed the help.

When he first started serving us, I would cut up fruit for him and offer him water.  On other occasions I would bake diabetic friendly treats for him and his wife.  Eventually, my daughter was born and I was not able to do anything for him in return.  This sometimes bothered me.  I felt this obligation to repay him for all he had done, though I knew that was impossible.  I would often pray about it and felt like the Lord continually said, "Giana, let him serve you."  Let him serve you.  

The spiritual implications of observing him have been great and twofold.  First, I want to serve the way Sr. Gallegos does.  When I think of him, the verse, "Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people," (Ephesians 6:7, NLT) comes to mind.

His name will probably never be in a hall of fame, but my family and I will certainly remember his example.  I hope to be like him:  faithful and humble—not expecting recognition or praise, but simply doing what I am called to do.

Second, growing up in South Texas, I have been influenced by the "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours," mentality.  I ran myself ragged as a single person through most of my twenties, constantly overextending myself by helping others, and trying to keep an "even score" with those who helped me.  It didn't work.  I was tired and could never keep up.

Now that I am more mature and in my thirties, I often reflect and wonder, how many of us do this in our relationship with the Lord?  Burnout because we are trying to repay Him for all He's done through our actions?  I am reminded of the verses that say, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast," (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV).

Is it bad to do good things?  Of course not.  And serving others is something we should always try to do, in one form or another.  But as for me, I am done with trying to repay others or somehow earn my way into Heaven.  That's not how it works.  And I'm glad it doesn't.  I would never be able to do enough.

When Sr. Gallegos is done loading his gas lawnmower, trimmer and weed eater into the bed of his truck, I thank him, wave and say, "Hasta luego (see you later)."

He waves back and always answers, "Si Dios quiere (if God wills it)."

And just like that, the Keeper of the Grounds gently reminds me, I still have much to learn.


  1. Beautiful lesson. Thank you for the wonderful reminder to be a blessing to others.

    1. Thank you, MomKat! Sometimes it's hard letting others bless us.

  2. Very touching. He is truly inspiring and your blog reminds all of us to serve and allow others to serve without feeling guilty of repayment. It is gladness in out heart that we serve God and serve others willingly without expecting anything in return. "Keeper of the Grounds," what a great title! Well done Giana!

    1. Thank you so much, Sonya! Confession: Beau always comes up with the best titles when he edits my writing! :)