Tunneling – the act of shutting out the world when you are overwhelmed by a work load that is growing and you need to burrow through to the other side.
When we were kids, we would play in the network of newly installed storm sewers that were laid in the ground prior to new developments being built all around us. On a hot summer afternoon they were one of the few places we could stay cool. First we’d lift a manhole cover (my friend Tom has a permanent reminder of the time I lost my grip and it broke his foot). Then we’d drop in. There was no light and there were miles of underground “passageways.” We could disappear for hours with no clue as to how the world above was doing. We were unreachable – and we meant for that to be so.
Winters in Illinois were not unlike what has been experienced this past year. We had endless snow from December to March. The shoveling of our walks and the plowing of our residential streets left piles and piles of snow for us to play in. We built elaborate forts with networks of connecting tunnels. It is surprisingly quiet inside a snow cave. We could crawl into these forts and disappear for hours, oblivious to the world around us.
Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house. (Proverbs 24:27)
Some time ago I wrote a blog about the importance of being interruptible. It is important to live a life with margin in order to be interruptible when you encounter someone in need, someone for whom God has arranged a divine appointment with you. But there are times when the demands of work and life require us to muster all the hours we have and work through what has been set before us and needs our focus. Like preparing a homestead, all activity has to wait until the means to survive is provided – the fields need to be made ready for planting. At such times, we shut out the world, bear down on the work at hand and tunnel through.
It has been a long, fruitful year of study. The final doctoral paper of the season is due at midnight tomorrow. So… I am tunneling. I am shut off from the world around me. See you on the other side!