When you hear a West Texas farmer tell you that his irrigation well is pumping sand, it is never good news. The well is no longer deep enough to pump life giving water that keep crops alive and vibrant. And unfortunately wells can go out at the most inopportune times. A crop can burn up in the August sun without sufficient water. Consequently a wise farmer acts decisively by having the pumped pulled and the well drilled even deeper.
Ruth Haley Barton in her book, Invitation to Solitude and Silence makes reference to pockets of anger about past pains and present injustices that cover deep wells of sadness. The presence of anger is just like an irrigation well pumping sand. Relationships are destroyed as the poisonous anger sand is sprayed everywhere. It takes a lot of courage to uncover that same well and dig through the muck. But it must be done.
We must be willing to uncover our own wells of sadness and keep drilling until we are able to deal with past pains and present injustices. What drilling company shall we call? Can we call the same guy that pulls irrigation pumps on farm wells? That would be nice, but it won’t work.
Drilling down a well of sadness is not for the faint hearted, but it looks something like this: We must choose to push the cover back, and dig the well deeper by entering into a place of solitude. In the context of solitude, we can allow God invade the areas of our lives where the pain is particularly excruciating. It is not much fun. It is going to hurt, but in the long run it helps.
Solitude forces us to quit hiding from the pain. The noise of life can no longer drown it out. We experience a greater degree of spiritual depth by entering into times of solitude for the expressed purpose of allowing God enter the most painful corners our existence. And once the well is dug deeper, we can emerge with a new capacity to work through pain and injustices constructively. We look up one day and realize that we are no longer pumping up anger sand. And of course we tend to pump up anger sand at the most inopportune times. After all, when a well consistently pumps anger sand, it is never good news.