It must've been precisely 5:59 am this morning when I had a peculiar dream. It was a dark scene except that I could sense myself and one other thing in the nothingness. A big bucket (held by no one) was looming overhead. Just as I expected, it tipped over, pouring more water than I thought possible to handle.
My mind raced as to whether get towels or the broken mop that sits in the hall closet, but my alarm woke me up at 6 before I could do either.
I rose and made my way downstairs aware that the bucket dream closely resembled the way I approach stillness. I let anxious thoughts, expectations, and briefly forgotten to-do items collect like drops in a bucket. How illustrative that they pour down on me before I'm even awake.
I made my way to the kitchen to fix salad lunches, making sure to write croutons and toilet paper on a notecard shopping list.
I walked past the downstairs bathroom and made the irresponsible choice of stopping at the mirror. Make a hair appointment, I told myself as I aggressively made a swipe under each eye, insisting the leftover mascara at least move to each eye corner. (Ironically I'd be fussing at one of the girls minutes later for not properly removing her own eye makeup the night before.)
Shortly thereafter I was confronted by a pile of mismatched socks, a load of towels waiting on the couch, an unruly Schnauzer, and the strong smell of vinegar reminding me to go finish cleaning the microwave. All this didn't begin to cover the things that needed doing after the kids left for school.
Knowing what my morning needed, I unlocked the front door and scampered barefoot down the sidewalk (hoping no one would see me in my morning glory). I grabbed my Bible from the front seat, clutching it as a lifeline. I was stopped by a colony of ants who'd claimed a new address in our sidewalk crack overnight.
I sit now surrounded by that aforementioned pile of socks and load of towels. Dust on the nearby bookshelf and Rylie's sagging "13" balloons battle to capture my attention, but I won't let them have it. I'm chasing a good thought.
Those ants outside want in on the swarming thoughts inside my head, so I Google search those guys. Come to find out they're pavement ants. When the heat gets too much to handle...when life gets too crowded, they move. Strange enough, sidewalk cracks seem to be prime real estate...location, location, location.
Horticulturalists believe sidewalk cracks are a good move because they're an entryway to aerated soil below. Ants can aerate the soil through effort, but sidewalk cracks are an already-prepared place for them to breathe.
("the pavement ant ...prefers dry, well-aerated soils such as those commonly found under pavements and sidewalks..." -Walter Nelson, horiculturalist)
More toil won't fix things. Neither will a break... or our favorite coffee. We don't just need a new book on the best-sellers list, a Frappuccino, or a housecleaner to refresh our spirits (don't go and cross those things off your list). It's just that we need something more.
Whether life's bucket looms overhead or is reigning down terror we need a place to truly escape; a place that may initially seem less-productive. We need a spot beyond the toil where the world disappears for a bit...a place where heavy sighs can be exchanged for breaths of fresh air.
God has prepared such a place for the weary and hurried. Time with God through prayer and reading scripture invites us into His refuge from the busy and often hard road overhead. God wants to take hold of our bucket. He's waiting for us to ask.
Hear my cry, O God,
listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.
Let me dwell in your tent forever!
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!
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