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Sinkholes…

Whew, that was a deep one!

I’m crawling back up to the surface, just glad that this one wasn’t infinitely deep. 

You’ve probably heard of sinkholes before. They happen when the soil is depleted and washes away under the surface and then suddenly, while you’re eating your TV dinner and watching reruns of M*A*S*H, your living room collapses into a hole. This is a hypothetical situation, but it does happen, especially around here. 

I live on the border of Hillsborough and Pasco counties in Florida. Pasco County is affectionately referred to as the “sinkhole capitol of the world” (and Hillsborough is the “lightning capitol of the world” — fun place — Sink or Fry! — Hey, that sounds like a good bumper sticker…). Hillsborough County includes Tampa and the taxes have traditionally been higher here. Our neighborhood is almost equally divided by the county line. Lucky us, we get to pay Hillsborough taxes and because of our proximity to the line, we pay the higher Pasco insurance because of sinkholes — double whammy. 

But the sinkholes I’m referring to today are not really the environmental ones. I’m talking about the emotional ones, the mental ones. Having just climbed up out of one, I have good perspective on how easily they can catch you off guard. Seriously, just when you think you’ve settled down to a nice evening of watching the tube and snacking on cosmically un-nutritious crap, the universe sucks the couch out from under you and you are spinning and turning into a deep, dark hole. (Maybe that’s why psychiatrists have couches in their offices…would that be called a “shrink-hole?”) 

I find it personally ironic that I live as close as I do to the sinkhole capitol of the world, and I flirt with the line, both mentally and physically, as I cross the physical one to do my work most days, and the mental one as a game of cat and mouse. I’ll be darned if I’m not one fat, slow mouse sometimes. 

But today I feel like the cat! I feel like I know where the sinkholes are and how to avoid them. I can walk around the edges, looking down at the stupid fat mice who have fallen in and know that I have the power to lift them out or just watch them squirm and scratch at the dirt walls. I know this sounds kind of awful and grim, but there is an amazing sense of power when you finally reach the top and can look around and see the world again. 

This makes me think of the story about the donkey whose owner thinks the donkey is stupid and throws him down a hole and tries to bury him. But with each shovel full, the “stupid” donkey merely steps up on the dirt and eventually rises to the top of the hole.

I guess some of us are cats, others are fat mice, and the rest are stupid donkeys (not to be confused with dumb-asses). Few can claim to be entirely one or the other, because the sinkholes in life can happen to any of us at any time, no matter how shrewd, how fat and slow, or even how stupid we believe ourselves to be. Only God gets to decide which ones we need to be at any given time, and it is up to us to decide whether we’re going to accept that decision or fight against it. Either way, it’s deep and dark and usually quite wet at the bottom of a sinkhole and there’s a lot of time to sit and think about the predicament. What’s there left to do but pray like crazy!

It’s not just foxholes…. There are no atheists in sinkholes either.

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