There is a red and white tassel hanging in my office. Attached to it are the gold numbers, “2017”, in miniature form. It was part of my graduation apparel. It is now forever ensconced as a symbol of hard work and effort.
All the papers have been written.
The lab work is completed.
Discussion groups are over.
Credits are accrued.
The graduation ceremony was attended.
A toast was proclaimed to the graduate.
Yet the persistent question quietly drumming in my heart is:
What’s next? What’s next? What’s next?
That’s the expectation.
You are expected to achieve a goal, and then move on to the next goal. Yes, great job, nice work, well done. But what’s on the horizon? What do you have going? Where do you want to go from here? There is a constant hum in the background. I recently heard a person speculate that our society is addicted to stress. We have a need to be so overwhelmed that we can’t hear ourselves think. We crave the buzzing of busyness to our lives.
And when we achieve a goal, we have to immediately replace it with another one. Go, go, go! Don’t stop!
On my bus rides to work over the last few weeks, I’ve just stared out the window. I feel a bit…
What if I don’t know what’s next? What if I’m simply depleted? What if I can’t think straight because my brain is still fried from late night homework? What if I’m just plain, ole tuckered out?
I was perusing the Gospel of Luke recently, and I came across the story of Jesus in the boat with his disciples. They’ve just spent time going around towns and villages, sharing the Good News of God’s Kingdom. Jesus has given sermons and healed people. He had been followed around by almost everyone, calling His name, asking Him questions, wanting something from Him.
(You know how that is, right? Come on, Moms, we know what it’s like to go everywhere with a persistent, little voice behind us, saying, “Mommy, mommy, mommy?”)
I love this line from The Message:
“One day he and his disciples got in a boat…. It was smooth sailing, and he fell asleep.”
It was smooth sailing, and he fell asleep.
The sun was warm. The water was calm. The boat swayed in just the right rhythm.
The Creator of the Universe fell asleep.
Because he was tired.
That’s what his human body needed at that moment: A quick “40 winks”, a power nap, a resting of the eyes.
In the last few years, I’ve undergone some major life changes and haven’t stopped to reflect on them. I’m learning slowly—ever so slowly—that I’m not made for constant movement. I’m recognizing there is an ebb and flow to existence and I’m trying to practice the ability to be in one season and out of another. I could go charging ahead recklessly into the next thing. I could keep on racing without restoring my juices. I could run myself into the ground and burn, burn, burn until there was nothing left inside of me.
King Solomon commented on the in his sermon in Ecclesiastes. “A right time to cry and another to laugh, a right time to plant and another to reap, a right time to lament and another to cheer. A right time to rip out and another to mend, a right time to shut up and another to speak up.” (The Message)
The seasons are changing. The weather is warming up. Flowers are blooming. Daylight lingers long into the evening hours. It’s turning into summer time. And for me, it’s turning into a time to rest and recharge. A time to reap. A time to laugh. A time to reflect.
Do I have new goals on my list?
Sure, I have a few.
Do I know exactly what’s around the bend?
No, I don’t.
But, right now, I’m going to take a deep breath. In and out. I’m going to marvel that I’m alive on this earth. I’m going to wonder that I get a chance to live and to move and to have my being in God.
Right now, I’m going to tend to my herb garden and make fresh, vibrant recipes.
Right now, I’m going to teach my son the ABC’s with chalk on our front steps.
Right now, I’m going to sit on the couch with Thomas.
Right now, I’m going to be inspired by a book.
Right now, I’m going to go outside in the sun and soak up its rays.
Right now, I’m going to listen and absorb. I’m going to think and ponder and write. I’m slowing down from the busy pace for a short time.
The sailing is smooth. There might be a storm coming, or a madman with pigs, or a crowd of people pressing around me soon. (Read ahead in Luke’s Gospel….) It was after the resting that Jesus continued to do good for everyone He met.
The future is going to be wild and crazy and unpredictable. I’m so excited to see what happens then. I’m ready to do good for everyone. I’m open to whatever comes my way.
So while I can’t answer the question of “what’s next”, I can tell you what I’m doing right now.
I’m savoring this moment.
I’m so grateful to be…right here.