When Hope Caves In

"On Christ the solid rock I stand...all other ground is sinking sand..."

Hope caves in, sometimes. Something goes amiss; sends us plunging.  What separates faith in Christ from optimism, in times like that?

Oh, that’s a bad ‘un, older gardeners said when we told them a mole was punching tunnels in our septic- mound-turned- rock- garden. Not much you can do about moles, they said, ‘cept trap ‘em. But they make so many holes, they said, it’s by guess and by golly where to put the trap.

We call the old mound Hope Mountain. Or Hope Hill, even Hope Slope, sometimes. Each spring, when tulips bloom, that bump at the bottom of the yard proclaims in vivid colour that our Season-Maker hasn’t abandoned us in a white cavern of never-ending winter. That he knows where we are and what we need—and has the power to deliver it—even when we complain he’s late.

We didn’t know much about the mound when we moved here, except that it once had a purpose—to dissipate septic tank overflow.  Every older home in town once had one, but when the village installed a common lagoon years ago, mounds became unnecessary.

 Most neighbours have long removed theirs. We let ours stay. So had the previous owners, and those before her.  “Let’s make it nice,” we said of the bald dirt pile, and every greening season we thank God for the reminder of his trustworthiness.

 But the mole had to go.

 Moles don’t like above-ground traffic, we heard. Sonic vibrators, wind spinners, people walking. They vacate for a quieter claim.

 “Butterfly,” I said, one day. “Let’s go stamp on the rocks. See if we can chase that old mole away.”

 “OKAY!”

 Our thumps would have evicted a badger. On the top rock, I jumped with both feet. Once too often, it seems. There I was, then there I wasn’t. I plunged about waist deep, hit reverse and ejected, dirty as a mole myself. Not even sure I’d touched bottom.

 “Nana,” said my sober-faced grandchild. “Good thing that hole was no deeper. You could have landed up in China!”

 I banned traffic and determined to discover the mound’s secret. Could I have fallen further? How was it constructed? I ran the gauntlet of chuckles, snickers, and check-with-hims, until I finally connected with the man I’d heard had likely built the mound nearly forty years ago.

  “That’s a long while ago,” Norman said. “I probably did build it.” He explained the local mound anatomy—piles of rocks and dirt, with a galvanized barrel in the middle and a hose coming from the septic tank. “I punched holes in the barrel sides for drainage.” He chuckled. “The top likely rusted through. But you wouldn’t have landed in China.” The barrels, he said, all sat on solid ground.

 When hope caves in, optimism chimes, “No worries. You’ll probably be fine.” Faith says. “Don’t worry. Jesus knows where you are and what you need.”

 Even in the worst times, that’s rock-solid assurance. Everything else is a sink-hole.

 P.S. The mole moved on.