Dusty Garison and I share a love for the late, great TV show "The West Wing." He can quote it a lot more extensively than I can (remembering movie and TV quotes is one of Dusty's spiritual gifts), but I do remember one in particular: the fictional President Bartlet could often be heard asking members of his staff "What's next?" Sometimes he wanted to know what was next on his schedule, sometimes he was signaling that he was finished hearing your argument and the subject was closed, thankyouverymuch. I still hear it in my head sometimes; Martin Sheen as Jed Bartlet barking out: "What's next?" I find myself asking the same question at the moment, with excitement and some uncertainty about what might be next. My family and I have made the difficult decision to leave the Friendship House and the North Park neighborhood. It's very much a bittersweet time. We are confident that this is the right decision for myself and our family, but it's hard to think about being away from the neighbors and friends we've come to love. So we're looking for a new place to live, thinking ahead to packing up and moving, and thinking back on the great times we've had here. I'm also excited about the thought of seeing what I'm sure will be a bright future and strong relationship for the new community coordinator and the neighbors in North Park.
A friend remarked, after hearing about all the decisions and changes we are making, "Your lives have a lot of moving parts at the moment!" He's so right. There's a lot of "if this, then that" going on with us. It's very easy for me to get wrapped up in that and think we have to choose one path and stick to it rigidly, just to make things easier. But the truth is, we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to choices about what's next, and it would be difficult to make a decision that will end badly for us. We're very lucky, to say the least.
There are many ways to interpret that question:
What's next? (Despair: Surely nothing worse than this could possibly happen.)
What's next? (Avoidance: Can we please just get on with this? I can't talk about this any longer.)
What's next? (Impatience: Could you hurry it up please? You're number 8 of 32 on my list today and I don't have any more time for you.)
What's next? (Excitement: This is working really well! What do we do to keep moving forward?)
A friend gave me the great advice years ago to "live expectantly." To live expecting good things, or at least things that will be good for you; to live with an eye toward a bit of adventure. To live not in fear but in courage. So that's what I'm choosing. Adventure, courage, excitement, with a healthy appreciation of how I'm more ready than I realize for whatever lies ahead.
So, what's next?