The end of the year invites review.
Those who chronicle 2010 will record disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti (230,000 dead), the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and a world-wide economic downturn.
They will recall the introduction of the iPad, the first 24-hour nonstop flight of a solar powered plane, and the end of the H1N1 flu pandemic.
They will remember the rescue of 33 miners in Chile, the deaths of J. D. Salinger, Tony Curtis and Lena Horne, and Obamacare.
Looking back they will register for future generations the memorable events of MMX.
But the end of the year also invites looking ahead.
I am not a Nostradamus, but I enjoy predicting the future as much as he did. (I really suspect his "prophecies" were fillers for the almanacs he published just as proverbs filled in the pages of Benjamin Franklin's almanacs centuries later.)
With feigned solemnity I predict that over the next two years (I give myself leeway to extend into 2012) the following will occur:
1) President Barack Hussein Obama will announce that he will not seek re-election as President of the United States.
2) Former President William Jefferson Clinton will announce his candidacy for President of the United States and he will float the idea of choosing Hillary Rodham Clinton as his running mate.
3) Pope Benedict XVI will announce his retirement and will offer a recommendation about who should be his successor.
4) Environmentalist Albert Arnold Gore, Jr., will warn that continued green-house gas emissions will cause the onset of a new ice age.
5) Both the Cincinnati Reds and the Cincinnati Bengals will have winning seasons.
Remember! You read it here first!
Part of Nostradamus' lasting appeal is our curiosity and fear about the future. We want to know. And yet predicting the future is somewhat like forecasting the weather. There are signs and probabilities about what might happen, but nobody knows for sure.
Jesus made some predictions. He told his contemporaries that the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed; it was razed by the Romans in 70 AD. He spoke of the end time, when, following great tribulations, the Son of Man will come with great power and glory, but he went on to add, "Of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (Mark 13:32).
Jesus' advice in the face of the unknown was simple: "Be watchful! Be alert!"
But neither his dire prediction nor his sobering advice were meant to leave his audience anxious, distraught or despairing. Heaven is forever telling us, "Do not be afraid!" (Franciscan friar and spiritual writer Richard Rohr says, "'Be not afraid' is the most common single line in the Bible.")
Ours is a loving God, a Father solicitous for his children, capable of bringing good out of evil, always assuring us that there is light at the end of the tunnel. He does not necessarily keep bad things from happening, but he does find a way for goodness to triumph. Ours is a savior who knows his way out of the grave.
I don't know what the future holds. I can suggest that there will be continuing hostility between Arabs and Jews, between Muslims and Christians, between North Korea and South Korea. I am sure terrorist threats and bombings will continue. I predict that commercial television programming will get worse before it gets better.
But in truth I do not know what, when, how or even if these things will happen. All I can have is the assurance that God is the ultimate Master of history and things will turn out as divine providence directs. In the meantime I am to be at peace, not afraid. I am to be alert but not anxious. I am to have faith in God and not worry about tomorrow.
Looking ahead means looking toward God.
Heaven's best blessings to you in the new year!