Are We Just Ants Marching?

Are We Just Ants Marching?

All the little ants are marching, red and black antennae waving, they all do it the same, they all do it the same way.

Ants Marching”, the Dave Matthews Band


It was another restless night of sleep at both our homes. We often tell people we work two jobs right now, our day job is that we are compassionate listeners and co-founders of the non-profit Someone To Tell It To. For me (Tom) my night job is “attempting” to parent four small children. In the words of comedian and fellow father of four (soon to be five) children Jim Gaffigan:

“We often feel like we are in a hostage situation with our kids…we will do anything to keep them in their room at night.”

For me (Michael) it’s attempting to care for our son Matthew, with his significant developmental disabilities and autism. It takes a toll on both of us and our wives.

Groggily, I (Tom) drive to the first meeting of the day. It is a very dark and foggy morning (and not just the fogginess I am feeling in my head).

A song comes on the radio by one of my favorite musicians, Dave Matthews Band, called “Ants Marching”.

The song is found on one of their most well-known albums Under the Table and Dreaming which was derived from the verse:

Goes to visit his mommy She feeds him well – his concerns, he forgets them And remembers being small Playing under the table and dreaming.

I sing along:

All the little ants are marching, red and black antennae waving, they all do it the same, they all do it the same way.

I take a moment to soak in the lyrics. “Wow, isn’t that the truth”. The song comes from this idea that people get caught up in the monotony of their everyday lives and forget to focus on what is truly important. The metaphor used is that people are like marching ants in the line:

All the little ants are marching, red and black antennae waving, they all do it the same, they all do it the same way.

I tell Michael about it when we meet for the day. We both agree, sometimes – too many times – it’s all too easy to lose the focus on what is truly most important in our lives.

When life is hard, when we are tired, when things we hoped for don’t happen as quickly or fully as we would like, when every day presents challenges that feel threatening to us, it’s hard not to question:

“What’s the meaning of it all?”

“Is this all there is?”

“What’s the point?”

It causes us to question and to wonder if there is hope for our lives? Is there a way to find satisfaction and fulfillment and peace and security?

From a spiritual standpoint,

Is there a God and is God active?

And if God is active, how active is God, really?

What’s coincidence and what’s God?

Is there a God who is leading, guiding, and directing our steps?

Or, as the song goes,

Are we simply “ants marching”, red and black antennae waving?

We are currently in the middle of a transition period with our non-profit. We are moving out of the infant phase and into the toddler phase of our existence. With change, comes uncertainty, and uncertainty can breed fear, soreness, discomfort, hesitation, etc. In high school, we can remember sharing in some of those feelings as our bodies body grew up out of the adolescent phase. Again, change is never easy, especially change we can’t control. In those seasons of transition, it’s easy to feel as if things are totally ‘out of control’.

Personally, we can start questioning:

Are the (many) small victories we have achieved along the way because of God’s activity OR have they been merely coincidence based on our own intuition and action?

“That $3,500 check that came in the mail the day our taxes were due, mere chance?”

“What about the month(s) where it came down to the final day or two to pay for our salaries, was that mere happenstance?”

“How about the $525 check that arrived the night before our bill was due to pay our publisher, was that fortuitous?”

“How is it that for three years now we have had respected authors, agree easily and enthusiastic commit to traveling to speak and advocate for our non-profit at our annual fundraisers?”

“What about finding our logo? Our board chair just “happened” to stumble upon a woman from North Carolina who does art therapy and had a logo that was designed “just for us”?     Was that mere coincidence?

For us, we have to believe that there is a purpose for our being here on this earth, in this life.   We have to believe that there is something bigger than we are, something greater, something more coincidental than all of us merely marching like ants, our lives nothing but rote routines, that we have choices and opportunities to lead meaningful lives of creativity, beauty, joy and love.

We believe that we have each been created and given both common and unique gifts that can enhance and affect the common good—and that things do work out for good (Rom 8:28)—even if it doesn’t meet our definition of “good” in the here and now.

As Albert Einstein once said:

Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.

We believe that even though this world is filled with unspeakable and horrific darkness, we are not merely destined to march into the darkness and accept what it offers.

We believe that there is a greater good – a stronger power called love – that can overcome the darkness – the pain, the fear, the violence, the hate, the disease, and the dis-ease – and that is more than just mere coincidence. That gives us hope.

We believe that we have been given that ability to choose to hope in a greater good.

We believe that we humans have been given unique birth and ability to recognize love within and around us.

We believe that we are guided by that active force of love – a gift from a loving, gracious and compassionate God – to find our way through the darkness, and to join a powerful movement that can deliver us from the routines that enable darkness to persist.

No, we believe that there is a meaning to our lives.   We are not “ants marching”, but children of God who are created in love, to be loved, to share that love.

We personally have to believe that there is more than mere coincidence to our existence. That we are nothing but ants marching trying to find our own way, doing this totally on our own.   No, we believe that there is a stronger force beckoning us forward in that love.

We believe that love makes all the difference.

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