I am so SO thrilled to have Addie Zierman here today. Her book When We Were on Fire was like reading out of my own more eloquent high school journal. Addie tells the beautiful and difficult truth, always. I am a BIG FAN.
The Kingdom of God is like a Squeaky Hamster Wheel
We accidentally-on-purpose got a hamster last week. His name is Hurley.
We got the hamster because the boys kept catching moles that had gotten trapped in the egress windows. Dane, in particular, had become devoted to creating habitats for these vile little critters with their sneering snouts and theirappetite for worms and grubs.
So we struck a bargain — release Squeaky the Mole, and we’ll buy a hamster.
Hurley is a cute little Winter White from PetsMart who looked so docile and sweet in his cage.
But then, we got THE WHEEL.
Do they make hamster wheels that don’t squeak? If they exist, I have never met one.
It starts right when we put the boys to bed at 7:30. Squeak, squeak, squeak, the wheel goes as Hurley goes round and round, and it brings me straight back to my pink-wallpapered childhood bedroom and my loft bed, where I’d lie at night, staring at the ceiling while my own hamster, Sniffles, went squeak, squeak, squeak on his own wheel.
At ten o’clock, when Andrew and I turn off living room lights and come upstairs to bed, it’s still going. Squeak, squeak, squeak. “That little thing has to be running miles,” Andrew says, as we lie side by side in bed, listening.
At two in the morning, when I trundle out of bed to let the dog out, the hamster is still running, the squeak, squeak, squeak echoing through the middle-of-the-night quiet. I can hear it perfectly from the kitchen, where I lean my head on the cold patio door, waiting for the dog to come back in.
At five a.m., when my alarm goes off, and I lie in bed, blinking into consciousness, it’s that squeak, squeak, squeak that pulls me out of bed, because once you start hearing it, it’s all you can hear. It’s relentless and impossible to ignore, and it’s what I’m hearing when I open the prayer book I read in the mornings: The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime.
It’s the song behind me when I speak into the morning dark the first part of the Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father, who art in heaven
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth
As it is in heaven.
The hamster wheel squeak, squeak, squeaks, and it occurs to me that the Kingdom of God has been at work all this time — that when I am asleep, when I am distracted, when I am unaware, it is still turning, turning, turning — God at work, always, in the world he created.
Listen, I am a whiz at believing that I am the center of the living universe, that the world begins and ends with my to-do list. That if I stop holding it together, it will all fall apart. But in the dark morning, the hamster wheel turns, and I am reminded of the on goingness of it all — that as I sleep, the Kingdom of God is growing and moving and changing everything, turning the world around.
That we wake into a Kingdom that is always already happening.
The wheel squeaks its relentless song, and the sun rises a little bit at a time, and we are invited to step into the healing, nonstop current of Kingdom living once again.
She has an MFA from Hamline University and is the author of When We Were On Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love and Starting Over — which was named by Publisher’s Weekly as one of the best books of 2013.