Wow, I just had a good long cry. In the last few months a number of things have happened in my life, any of which would have warranted a good long cry. I just never seemed to have to have the time or the privacy or the strength. They’ve all been building up until today a phone call surprised me.
The familiar voice said to me, “I have good news and bad news.” Oh Lord. What now? Okay, let me have it. And he did. And the good news was very good. And the bad news was so slight that I thought, “Seriously? This is your bad news? This is nothing. Bless your heart, you clearly have no idea what I have been through recently.” I thought that. I didn’t say it.
We got off the phone and I sat here stunned by this good news for a while. Then I went back to checking out my Facebook timeline. One of my friends posted a link about a baby’s first year. I started to cry. It was beautiful, and delightful, and so very real. Then another friend posted a link to the great Mahalia Jackson singing “Precious Lord.” Suddenly there I was standing at my mother’s grave and singing a heartfelt solo version. That didn’t actually happen, mind you, but hearing the song took my soul there and the floodgates of tears were opened. I sat and cried for almost an hour.
Once again I find myself at a major turning point in my life. “Once again” makes it sound like these things happen to me all the time. They don’t. The last one was nearly twenty years ago. But as difficult as this one has been and is, if the results are anything like the steps forward I managed to take last time, then this is going to have an outcome to look forward to. Right now though I’m still in that hairpin turn. The centrifugal force is pulling me this way and that. I can’t concentrate on what comes further down the road. I have to concentrate on what is happening right this minute. I’m anticipating what comes next, but I don’t really know.
What now? There are several things I would like to happen now. Some of them surely will. Others maybe not. Still others (like winning the Lotto) probably not. Yet I find myself trying to make plans for the immediate future at least. Beyond that, who knows? I didn’t expect to be where I am now. A year ago my life so very different. Now, the road I am traveling is wide open with all kinds of exciting exits. Which should I take? What now?
Who decided that we need a life plan and that we have to stick to it? Every life plan I have ever made was pretty much a waste of time. I say “pretty much” because those plans did lead me to learning experiences, but not once have they ultimately led to any more than the slightest nod in the direction of the goal I thought I was setting. This is not the life I planned. This is not the life I replanned. Or the life I planned after that. This is simply my life.
MaryAnn McKibben Dana wrote in a blog post recently ,
“Things happen [in life] that you didn’t anticipate, and you have to adjust. With luck and grace, you ‘yes-and’ the thing, accepting and building on whatever gets thrown at you. Accepting something doesn’t mean you have to like it, by the way. But a spirit of improvisation leads us to be curious, to ask, ‘Well, OK. Now what?’
“We are made in the image of God, and God is a master of improv. This I believe. I don’t know what that means when stacked up against sturdy preacherly words like eternal, immutable, absolute, all-knowing, perfect. I just know that when I look at the sacred texts I see a God who iterates. Who pivots. Who encounters the world as it is, not as God planned it to be. Who yes-ands all over the place.”
I love the idea of God as the master of improv. I’m a fan of chaos theory. I still love the bumper sticker that reads “Stuff Happens” except we know that “stuff” is not the word that is used. I no longer believe in master plans. Not for my life. Not even from God – except that God’s ultimate master plan is for everyone in the world to be in right relationship with God and with each other.
It’s been a long day. It’s been a tiring day. I didn’t accomplish half the things on my “To Do” list after that phone call threw me for a loop. I’m okay with that. But now it’s time to go to bed so I can get up tomorrow and ask, “What now?” No matter what I face, no matter which direction I turn, no matter what I decide the next step should be, I remain open to “yes-and” and ready to pivot.