I stare, again, at the pile of dirty dishes in the sink. Crusted-on enchilada sauce clings to a pyrex casserole dish. Plates from lunch, yesterday, still dusted with crumbs from the dino nuggets and smeared with Emma’s secret sauce mix of ranch and ketchup. With the sink nearly overflowing the surrounding countertop is also buried beneath a layer of milk and cheerios cereal bowls, cups, my favorite perfectly sized and shaped snowman mugs I use year-round, and random untensils.
I sigh a deep sigh. Trying to breathe out some of the weight I feel crushing in on me. The house has felt claustrophobic to me lately. Like the walls of domesticity have been slowly closing in on me with the rising of the laundry pile and the pull of needs-to-be-met of little hands on my yoga pants.
I stare down the unmoving dishes, silently damning them for their presence and constant regeneration.
I look out the large, square window above the sink to the hills above the roofline of my well-worn middle class neighborhood. There is a single tree, an oak I would guess, but then again I know nothing of trees, standing lonely on the top of the farthest hill directly across from me in the distance. I feel my soul tugged toward it. Surely there I would lose this crushing sensation! There in the wide open spaces where I could think and feel and my soul could stretch. I imagine overlooking a vast ocean where my creativity could spread endlessly.
I look down and continue my dishwashing standoff.
Why is this so hard for me?! Why does every step of this homemaking journey feel like I’m walking through deep water; striving, muscles tense, making slow progress.
My phone lights up, beckoning me to the cyber world beyond. My Kindle lies on the edge of the counter near the coffee pot enticing me to lose myself in another story not my own.
I want to! I stamp my feet like an obstinate child, attempting to push back the temptation to yet another distraction. Please, Lord, please! Help me to want what you want for me here. Help me to dig in here, right now!
Once again, I am reminded of the journey to the Promised Land. The land spoken of so beautifully in Deuteronomy 8 as “a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.”
To quote Liz Lemon, “I want to go to there.”
Suddenly I am struck by the phrase “out of whose hills you can dig copper.” Wait a minute. This is The. Promised. Land. Where I eat bread without scarcity and water springs up in abundance and everything I could desire hangs heavy on the trees surrounding me in plain sight!
And yet, even here there are hidden things. An element only to be accessed through digging. By sweat and toil and strength and perseverance.
I’m not sure what part of this great Exodus journey I’m on. I’ve written before of how this place mostly feels like Jericho, wandering in circles waiting for the wall to come down. Waiting for my time to truly march into the Promised Land and possess it. It sure doesn’t feel like bread without scarcity as I attempt to scratch out writing time at 5am weekdays and every other Saturday morning in my Starbucks sanctuary.
But I am encouraged that there is work to be done even there. Somehow it helps me to see the importance of it here too. The work is not bad. Even in the good land I will need to dig. Maybe here is where I’m meant to practice, to build up my strength for what is to come.
I sigh again, this time feeling a bit of the burden lift. Lord help me to dig in. To find the hidden elements in the place I am. This place that you have brought me. If I’m going to believe in the future possession of the place you’re bringing me, I have to believe in the purpose of where you have led me right now.
I lift the tap and wait for the water to warm. I lift my eyes once more up to the hills. A spectacular sunset is sweeping the western horizon beyond my lonely oak tree. Dusty blue sky bisected by fluffy clouds that fade from purple shadows to rose gold hues. The descending sun setting the hills ablaze. I stare transfixed at the technicolor cloud symphony playing out before me.
Yes Lord, such beauty. Even here.
I squeeze the blue scrubby sponge under the warm water flowing abundantly and reach for the soap.
And I dig in.