The Next Thing

The next thing is all you can do. Let that sink in. You cannot possibly do the thing after the next thing until you do the next thing. In that sense this is an orderly universe. All you can feel is the next thing. All you can think is the next thing. The secret of the masters is that they did it consciously.

The body may be broken on the rack of cancer, poverty, depression, alcoholism. Fill in the blanks. In some of us there is a yearning for the light, an eternal yearning that will not be denied. It seeps through the cracks of our human condition, this feeling of alienation from both man and God. For God is silence and we haven’t broken that code yet. God doesn’t speak via the rational mind. He waits for it to fall silent. He waits for the exact moment of surrender to happen.

Generally it takes an act of extremity for us to crack open wide enough for a significant amount of light to get in. One must be living “Father, let this cup pass from me.” In my case it was my daughter’s death. To see the still body of a first-grader allowed a great silence to fall onto my being, the shadow of death, the shadow of God’s Hand. How was I to know the difference?

All I could do was the next thing and the next. One foot in front of the other. Was there a larger footfall beside me? It didn’t feel like it. Slowly but surely I begin to live a life without her. Year after year unspooled. Decade after decade decanted its wisdom. My husband, too, left my earthly presence. By then I knew that the next thing was the best thing.

I begin to care for myself like a child. I still do. I woke up early this morning and came in here to write. The next word and the next word. I can’t write them out of order. There is a pattern from which we cannot stray. As they say, on this side it looks like all knots and mistakes. One day this life will be flipped over and the grand design will have been woven. One stitch at a time. That’s how the light gets in. Leonard Cohen was right; that is how the light gets in.

LIFE WITH A HOLE IN IT:That’s How The Light Gets In can be ordered on this website.

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