My husband and I sat on our back patio rocking in two white wooden chairs, bought solely on a whim. That whim has led to countless hours of talking and talking while the sky gradually fades and our children spin webs on their scooters around us. The air seeps into our skin and we rock and rock.
This week we were discussing life’s burdens. It was puncutated with comments concerning a tragedy a family we know experienced this last week. A driver, suspected of being drunk, went over the median line and smashed into their car. The Father was driving with his three kids. Today, as I post this, will be the day of Katie’s funeral. She was fifteen-years old. She was a happy person who wore giant black-rimmed glasses and an infectious grin. We couldn’t imagine the pain they must be carrying.
As I rocked, I looked down between my feet and noticed a brown ant. In its mouth was a third of a much larger bug’s body with wings still attached. The ant had set its burden down, circled round, found the trail, and then picked up his dinner and continued on. I was mezmerized. “Look, Jim,” I said, “How far do you think this ant is going to carry that? The length of our patio must be like crossing the Sahara desert for him.”
We watched the ant walk another five feet before it came to a step down about eight inches high. The ant did not stop – it and its burden went over the edge and it picked up walking right where it fell. “That’s amazing! That would be like a 100-foot drop to a human,” Jim said.
We rocked on and watched the drama. The ant kept losing its way, dropping the bug, circling, smelling, and then picking it back up to carry on. Over and over and on and on it went. Eight more feet took ten minutes.
I could see the colony in a deep crack about three feet away. “Home is just over there!” I got up and followed the ant, egging it on. “You’re almost there!” Quite suddenly, the ant dropped the bug and dashed toward home. After “miles” of carrying it, the burden seemed not to be worth the trouble anymore when home was in sight. When he entered the crack, his family swarmed over him.
I was frustrated – sad – disappointed in watching this entire journey and nature’s struggle to only see the ant “give up.” I voiced my opinion strongly. “All that carrying, for what? He didn’t bring it home with him. There’s no reward waiting and everyone cheering and sitting down to a meal!”
Jim wisely suggested that I was missing the point. When we are in sight of our real home, we don’t have to carry our burdens anymore. We recognize they just cause us to lose our way and they become meaningless. The reward is arriving home to waiting friends and family and being burdenless when you do it is even better.
Katie’s death this week has helped me see a glimpse that home is closer than we think. The ant has reminded me to drop my burdens and give them to the Lord. We never know when we are going to arrive.
If you would feel inclined to contribute to Katie’s family for medical expenses and funeral costs, the link is here: Katie Hancock