What’s Next?

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How I long to be sitting beside Kathy and across the table from a couple of good friends. The setting will be a delicious restaurant. Our lovely meal will be ending and someone will ask …

“What’s next?”

How I long for the answer to be something warm-hearted like…

“Let’s go over to our house, make a fresh pot of coffee and play a game of hearts”.

How I long to turn towards Kathy, see her answer in her eyes and, speaking for the two of us, give the appreciative response…

“We’re in.”

And we are off. No masks. No long discussion about protecting our health.

What’s next?

Certainly, such a question belongs at the beginning of a new year. “What’s happening next in your world?”

“Oh, we are off to Aruba on a cruise in a couple of weeks.” Or…

“It makes me nervous to even ask that question. After the shockers of 2020, I don’t even want to think about it.” Or…

“The moment the extra unemployment $$$ dry up, we are out on the street.” Or…

“A much better year. 2021 has got to be better than 2020.” Or…

“Nothing God and I can’t handle together.”

What’s next?

All through December 2020, I had been trying to write a series of articles on the theme of, “What’s Next?” I even typed out the first sentences of a few columns—but too soon they seemed inadequate to the situations of our lives. Mostly folks seem to long for, and in some cases are desperate for, our context to return to normal, or something that closely resembles the previous comfort, safety and familiarity of our lives.

Do you and I understand that a return to “normal” is a longing for an extremely tiny number of human beings on the planet earth? Normal, for billions of our planetary brothers and sisters, even in America, is one or the other of the cutting edges of survival.

The edge of hunger.

The edge of despair.

Even, the edge of extinction.

That is just one of the facts that keeps provoking me to write a series of articles on the question, “What’s Next?”

Another fact is that that almost no one expected us to crash into a global pandemic in 2020. Personally speaking, I knew that pandemics are one of the frightening predicaments that humanity will likely encounter in our lifetimes. But, I also was stunned by the suddenness and the ferocity of its arrival and the degree to which we were physically, emotionally and spiritually unprepared. In this sense, no one knows the answer to the question, “What’s Next?” Sometimes it causes me to tremble…like an onlooker as the animals march on to the ark.

However, there is a third fact that is simply called, Reality, with a capital “R.” You can deny Reality. You can refuse to see the signs of Reality’s unfolding presence. We can choose not to believe Reality. And, Reality will still be what it is and will continue to impact our lives. When we are well-connected to Reality, which I believe is “Just Love,” it literally does not matter what’s next. At One with Just Love, we are ready for anything and everything. Disconnected from Just Love, we are ready for nothing that really matters. As the apostle Paul experienced this Reality, “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” To be unfamiliar with such ultimate truth is to be disconnected from all that makes life truly abundant, full of hope, open to love.

There are many moments of joy, faith, hope and love in my life; times when I am not afraid. For example, a facemask wearing gathering with my family yesterday was such a time of joy. When you believe, as I do in the core of my being, that God is doing what God has been doing since the beginning of creation—something NEW that is something GOOD—fear cannot have its way with us, no matter the difficulties we face.

It is in fact possible to be prepared for every answer to the question, “What’s Next?” That’s exactly why in John’s gospel, chapter 17, Jesus prays that you and I will be One with God as Christ is One with God. What’s next? I don’t know, but I have been listening to an angel that just said, “Fear not, for I bring you news of great joy which is for all the people…”

What’s Next? To be continued…

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