Is This An Alien Footprint?

Maybe.  I’ve wondered and imagined and told random children it was.  But the truth is, before I bought my house 22 years ago, my neighbors tell me there was a fish pond in the backyard.  It had a sidewalk leading up to it and a little bridge going over it.

Sounds lovely.

When they decided they were done with the annoying upkeep, though, apparently they broke up the sidewalk and took out the bridge, then just filled the fish pond with dirt and planted grass on top of it.  Now every time the temperature goes above 80 or two days pass without rain, the grass dies in this shape.


I didn’t know this before I bought the house because I closed on it in the middle of winter, when there was snow covering the grass.

I once talked to a landscaping service about digging the darn thing up and it was just too expensive, so I live with this ugly eyesore in my backyard.  It’s a good reminder of a couple of things:

  1. Deep roots are critical for real growth.  That’s such an in-your-face object lesson it almost doesn’t even need to be said.  But I sometimes need to be reminded that I can be as shallow as that grass if I don’t cultivate some depth in my life.
  2. What’s buried never really goes away.  My lawn looks great as long as the conditions are ideal.  But that fish pond is still there, heavy and useless, just under the surface.  If I want a perfect backyard (is there such a thing?), I’m going to have to get that thing taken out.  It’s going to cost me and it’s going to be involved.   What’s buried in my life that needs to be removed for me to be healthy?
  3. I settle for less than perfection a lot.   That’s not really a bad thing, as long as I don’t get all frustrated and weird when things aren’t perfect.  If I don’t want to have to explain the dead patch to guests, I either have to get it fixed or I have to not care.  But I can’t get mad at the grass for not growing.

What do you see in this patch of dead grass?  Are there any other lessons to be learned (or are there any bored landscapers out there who find it offensive and want to come help me out?)

The Best Kind of Copycat

Dreams are weird; I think we can all agree on that.  They rarely make sense and they can be disturbing, especially if there’s spicy food involved.  Sometimes, though, a dream can be thought-provoking, even thrilling, and you don’t want it to end.  Have you ever had one of those?

Not long ago, I dreamed I was running on a flat, rock-strewn desert trail.  I was all alone and I don’t know why I was there.  It was hot and unappealing and I was struggling to keep going.

As I slogged along, a man appeared seemingly out of nowhere up ahead of me who was gliding along effortlessly.  It was mesmerizing to watch him.  It was obvious he was enjoying himself and rather than becoming fatigued, he seemed energized by the effort he was expending. 

I decided to imitate him.  I began to measure my stride so that it matched up with his.  I swung my arms the same way he did and bounced in unison with his steps.

He began to deviate from the path so I did the same and found myself below a huge canopy of trees, still only a few yards behind him.  It was cool and refreshing even though we were increasing our pace and the trees were melting into a blur around us.

Then he adopted a strange skip-like step that made it look like he was floating between footfalls.  Again, I did the same, springing along with the same rhythm and almost immediately, I was looking down on the trees while willing myself upward with my mind.  When I touched the ground, I would catapult back up, higher and higher with each stride.  I kept my eyes on this unusual apparition of a man and did everything he did.  I had the clear sense I could go on forever just by imitating him.  It was invigorating and effortless – I squealed with delight.

And woke myself up.

The dream probably lasted less than a minute in real time but I awoke feeling, of all things, hopeful.  Now isn’t than an unusual thing, to wake up feeling hopeful after a dream that had me floating over rough terrain and bouncing above trees at blinding speed?  I should have been exhausted.

But I think the key in that short dream sequence had been the presence of that man ahead of me and recognizing that if I carefully mirrored his actions and did what he did, I could go far beyond my own natural capabilities.

I’m not saying my dreams always make sense or that I glean any kind of lesson from most of them.  In fact, if I remember them at all, sometimes they just make me sad.  But this one seemed to have a message for me:

How often do I spend my waking hours with my eyes glued in defeat to the craggy trail ahead of me?  How often have I let other people influence my opinion of myself and tell me what I’m capable of?  How many times have I missed seeing “Someone” right in front of me who would show me my real potential, if I just followed the example He set?

My hopefulness came from recognizing that God, through his Holy Spirit, is on this life journey with me.  He wants to lead me and has made it possible for me to hear from Him through prayer and His word.  He has put others on this same desert path with me who have received wisdom from Him that they will gladly share.   I know by letting Him show the way and set the pace, I can bring glory to Him in ways I could never even imagine on my own.

And I was encouraged.

I think the next night I dreamed about a wild-eyed guy at the Secretary of State’s office who had 7-foot dreadlocks and told me his name was Verdunk Isthmus.  I don’t know WHAT that was about.