So What Happens Next?


By Tash McGill

One Tree HillI live in the valley under One Tree Hill, in Auckland, New Zealand. Yes, the one from that U2 song and nothing to do with the TV show. I was born on the side of this mountain, grew up in its shadow and I always return to it as soon as I can after I’ve been away.  Once a week I climb to the top where I can see the oceans and the land that surrounds me.

It’s my weekly ritual of reflection and preparation before the week ahead. I stare out on the view I’ve known all my life and out to the ocean beyond the harbour I know as safe. Because the mountaintop is the place I go to imagine and prepare for the future, I wonder often, sitting there ‘what happens next?

Here’s what I’ve learned at the top of the mountain. You can see the view but you don’t feel it the same way as if you were standing right there – on the sandy beach or in the water. On the hot city streets or in the shadow of a city tower – when I go to the top of the mountain, I can see the city but I stop experiencing it’s reality for a moment. In order to engage with it, I have to go back down.

Being on the mountaintop orients us. It gives us a view of where we are, but from a distance. We are slightly removed from the city up close and personal. It’s like a compass to decide the way forward, but you have to come on down the mountain in order to keep moving on.

How do you orient yourself after an event like the 30 Hour Famine? How do you move on? For me, it’s similar to reconnecting with the city. Once I’ve seen her from a distance, then I need to go and feel her warmth, experience her ocean, walk on her sand.

Big events, camps, mission trips and even Famine weekends can be just like mountaintop experiences. It’s hard work to get to the top but from there, you can see everything you’ve accomplished. The adrenaline buzz can feel pretty good too.

When you journey through something like the Famine as a group or as an individual, choose to orient yourself to something you can keep engaging with – whether it’s regular acts of generosity, sacrifice or service.

Great experiences should leave some sort of mark, change or habit with us. Maybe it’s just new language or a commitment to pay attention to poverty issues but we have the opportunity as leaders to integrate our Famine experiences into part of our regular shared stories.

So for those of you who have just finished the 30 Hour Famine – where are you going next? How will you engage with the view you got at the top of the mountain? And for those of you just about to get underway… pay attention when you get to the top. Set your sights on where you’re going next.