The Mower
The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed. It had been in the long grass.
I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably. Burial was no help:
Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful
Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.

Philip Larkin

In the hum of the mower, a life ends. A hedgehog’s demise, a wake-up call. The sharp blade of our actions can cut deep, even if unintentional.

Life is a blink. An ethereal whisper. And in this fleeting blink, actions echo. Sometimes, they silence a heartbeat, just as the mower did. Suddenly, we see our reflection in the blade: careless, often thoughtless. We are mowers in a field of delicate lives.

But then, Larkin’s words nudge us, point to another path. “Be careful. Be kind.” They’re not just words. They’re the switch to turn off the mowing machine. They’re the hands that cradle the hedgehog, and the small creatures like it, instead of harming them.

Love. Forgiveness. They’re the ointment on the blade’s wound. They’re the soft light at dusk that promises a gentler tomorrow. Life’s fleeting, yes. But in this fleet, we can either be the mower or the caregiver. The choice is ours. Let’s choose kindly, love generously, forgive quickly—while there’s still time.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand and Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2023 Stephen Boudreau.