- - Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Do you remember waiting for the year 2015 to begin? Like many others, you approached a ride called A New Year, climbed into your seat, buckled your seatbelt and prepared for what was sure to be a great experience. Just before the ride started to move you counted down the seconds, with a smile on your face, as you pictured how this ride would be much better than your last one. Your heart raced as you counted, five, four, three, two, one and the ride began to move.

To your surprise the ride started with a quick dropped as Facebook post screamed “Save our Girls” then the news covered stories about an attack in January on Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris. To ease the shock some of your friends filled social media with post of their valentine’s day gifts while others binged on the latest season of “House of Cards.” If you’re like me at this point you were beginning to rethink this ride and you may have lost your perfect workout plan somewhere along the way. So like many others, you reposition yourself in your seat determined to make the remainder of the ride better.

The ride slowed for a few moments as people celebrated Easter and stores hoped for an April version of Black Friday. As the ride proceeded you heard people around you talking about a financial crisis looming as Greece seemed to run out of money and threatened to close it banks. The thought of not having access to your money crossed your mind, but it was all Greek so it didn’t stay long. Suddenly you were awaken from a Greek daydream as the ride took a violent jerk to the left when news spread that a young man named Freddie Gray of Baltimore died in police custody. The ride became unstable as racial tensions threatened to send the roller coaster flying off the track.

As the train righted itself you saw some people on the ride waving rainbow colored flags as the Supreme Court ruled in June that same-sex couples could marry nationwide. The flags were put away as everyone held on to the guardrail as the ride took a sharp dive into a violent summer. You could hear yells from the Washington, D.C., section as well parts of the Chicago and Baltimore sections of the ride. Seats in major sections of the coaster became vacant as death tolls climbed. To everyone’s surprise nine passengers were thrown from the ride when a gunman opened fire at Mother Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina. At the beginning of the year you had so much hope for this ride but then you wondered if there were any way to make it better.

In hopes of making the second half of the ride more enjoyable you refocused and hoped for the best. For some reason you felt yourself sweating and began to think that this may be the first time you’d broken a sweat while riding a roller coaster. Your cell phone beeps in your pocket only to show you an alert from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration saying that this July was the hottest ever recorded on the globe. To heat things up more, Vanity Fair put Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of their July issue. You brave the heat to look at a few more emails only to promise that you’d purge your inbox of junk mail. After all who reads that much email anyway?

Someone seated next to you ask if you heard about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails? Someone behind you chimed in with their take on Mrs. Clinton’s use of emails and you wondered if you had taken a trip back to the 90’s when emails were actually read. The ride slowed down and you heard over a speaker, “Sorry people we’ve been instructed to stop the ride while the FBI picks up a few of Hillary Clinton’s emails.” You wondered for a moment would could be in those emails. Lucky for you it didn’t take long and the ride continued to move past what had been a bizarre summer.

You didn’t mind getting out of that heat and you looked forward to American’s coming to their senses as football returned, deflated footballs and all. You also heard that Pope Francis was coming to America and you watched non-Catholics get more excited that many Catholics. After the Pope spoke to Congress, a rider named John Boehner announced that he was resigning from his congressional seat as speaker of the House. Some riders yelled, “open seat.” As others fought over that open seat, Donald Trump and Ben Carson were in a tug of war for the best seat on the ride, the presidential seat, all while trying to avoid socialist landmines from Sen. Bernard Sanders and arrows from Mrs. Clinton.

The ride took a hard right to avoid another government shutdown and riders breathed a sigh of relief. To make the ride a little less tense Drake changed the lights and turned the ride into a cross between tetris and a computer screensaver with his song “Hotline Bling.” The lights flickered as the wind from Hurricane Joaquin picked up and threatened to ruin the ride for many of the passengers. As the winds subsided children and adults found reason to play dress up as you rode through a spooky section of the ride. Over the sound of the dramatic scary music you heard Christmas music and you wondered if the ride skipped Thanksgiving.

The ride took a slow left turn and there it was in the distance, Thanksgiving. You smiled as you thought about turkey, ham, dressing and maybe even one of Patti Labelle’s pies. Suddenly the train began to rock, passengers screamed and the ride seemed to fall as if the tracks were somehow snatched from beneath. Someone ahead of you yelled the Islamic State attacked parts of Paris. You reached for your phone looking for Facebook and Twitter updates and you saw that many of your friends had changed their profile pictures to show support for the victims in Paris. The ride slammed back on the tracks and the roller coaster continued but the pace was much slower. At that point you began to think what is there to be thankful for at Thanksgiving?

A friend seated next to you nudges you and says, “Hey I know there were a few ups and downs on the ride, but you’re still here and, I hear there’s a new ride that’s being built called Next Year.” You begin to think about it, a new ride called Next Year and you make plans to get your ticket. As you remember this ride, you promise yourself to make that ride called, Next Year better. But first you needed to update your Christmas list to include a few new items.

• Marquez Ball is an innovative leader for the 21st century and the senior pastor at Uplift Church, in Laurel, MD.

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