About Tomorrow

Upward Bound 2011 students gather in a darkened (cave) room.

And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:27-34

We’re playing in a stream on a hot day. After a morning of hiking, we ate the rest of our food under a cross at the crest of a pass, in the company of silent stone mountains and myriads of wildflowers. The students are elated, since the lack of remaining lunches precludes us from staying out much longer. Showers, email and clean clothes are calling.

They don’t know that we’re going in the cave. In twenty minutes, a van will bring them caving suits, plastic sacks, tarps, cooking pots and stoves, and food for 24 more hours. A few hours after that, after a long and steep hike, they’ll be plunging into damp darkness for the night.

They don’t know. But I know.

This lack of prior information is intentional on our part, as the program staff of Upward Bound. Students are meant to learn trust, learn to rest in the tasks of the moment without having to worry too much for the ones still ahead. It’s about being fully present, free of distraction from the future. Today, it also serves a practical purpose. Sometimes people are afraid of sleeping in caves; this way the fear is as brief as possible.

Some years, groups or individual students have a problem with this. They ask and plead, wheedle and scheme, to unveil more of the schedule than they’re allowed. They sneak watches into their bags, or nervously check the time on digital cameras. How long have we been hiking? What time did we get up? When, oh when, will we get back?

Our students this year are teaching me to trust. Just as we had hoped, they seem relaxed by the lack of care about tomorrow. More than relaxed, they seem to enjoy knowing at little as possible for one simple reason: They trust that whatever is coming will be good.

They know that they’ll get enough information when they need it. They know that they’ll be safe. They know that we know what time it is, and where we’ll go next. And that, marvelously, seems to be enough for most of them.

I want to trust God this way. To stop asking how long I’ll be walking in a given direction, stop questioning when I have to step out into stormy weather, stop begging to be told the schedule of events. I want to remember, every day, that whatever is coming next is good and safe, that I’m walking with the best guide I could ask for. I want to give up my watch and calendar, to give them back to God.

I think about the cave where we’re going, a place that I often describe with cautious adjectives like interesting or strange. Knowing the plan for future doesn’t always serve me so well. Perhaps this is why God doesn’t give me much of the view at a time. Don’t worry, He tells me. It will be good. And I’ll be there.

When the vans arrive, bringing the requisite equipment, the students listen with wide eyes, expectant smiles. They listen seriously to the instructions, ready to face this new adventure with their characteristic eagerness. I’m inspired, challenged and for the first time genuinely excited to slide down into the cave, that netherworld of oddity, with these curious, trusting students.


One Comment Add yours

  1. stefan says:

    wow, reading this brings back awesome memories! thanks for your precious thoughts that are sooo true! hope you’re doing fine, God bless U!

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