In this April 28, 2022, file photo, the Purple Ladle volunteers Sharon Berz (left) and Nancy Ward package meals of macaroni and cheese and broccoli. Credit: Melissa Lizotte / Aroostook Republican & News

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I remember from years ago, someone asked me a profound question. This question has haunted me to this day. “What, in this world, are you looking for?”

My mother asked me this when I wanted to stay outside our home beyond the streetlights coming on at 6 p.m. in Chicago. My U.S. Marine Corps recruiter asked me this as I approached my high school graduation. My future wife asked me this after we dated for about a month in the deep South.

This question has implications for both the present and the future. I’m looking for something beyond the obvious in the now. I’m looking for something substantial in the future.

This question also evolves over time in our lives. What I wanted in my teens after high school was meaning, direction and purpose. What I want in my 60s is value to my years of contribution in this life. I want to know that the life I’ve lived as a Black minister living in North America made a difference to someone, somewhere.

I remember a song that Mahalia Jackson sang, “If I can help somebody along the way, then my living shall not be in vain.” This is a question for everyone, everywhere in 2023. What in the world are you looking for? My hope and prayer are that each reader of this reflection will answer this in a meaningful way. As for me and my house, we will serve the lord (Joshua 245:15). Look for somebody to help along the way. Then your living will not be in vain.

James Weathersby

Augusta