I find it rather curious that as I am preparing our community for a journey through HOPE for the month of December, I am also preparing myself for a medical leave. (If this is the first time you’ve heard of this, check the special announcement that went out to our email list on November 20.)
Of course, I’m not the only one in the community who is feeling a particular need for hope right now. Others are facing health challenges, or wishing for some change in their life, or feeling stuck, or hoping to do well on their exams, or praying for less violence in the world, or… or… We could all use a little more hope.
As I say in December’s theme packet, HOPE is the ability to see possibilities. It is, I believe, focusing at least some of our attention on the gifts and resources that are present around us. It is replacing some of our ‘worst case scenarios’ with ‘better case’ ones. It is reminding ourselves that ‘all shall be well’. Life, after all, does go on, and we will learn and adapt to whatever new circumstances present themselves.
I do not believe that HOPE is another word for mindless optimism. It is not putting on a smiling face even when we’re not feeling that way. But it IS the ability to see that enough happiness to put that smile on our face is possible. It is the choice to keep returning to possibility statements rather than stewing in problem narratives.
In her book “Active Hope”, Joanna Macy introduces the concept of ‘discontinuous change’…sudden shifts that happen in unexpected ways…the fall of the Berlin Wall, the moment water crystallizes into ice, the snowflake that breaks the branch.
We don’t always see change happening…it either happens too slowly or over too long a time to be noticed. So, it can seem naïve or irrational to hold out hope that things are actually shifting…whether that be to better our own lives or to help bend the arc of the universe toward justice.
In many cases, hope is simply the willingness to see possibility…to hope that rather than hitting the same pothole again and again, something will change. A threshold will be crossed, and a whole new reality will break through. We have a choice…we can be cynics at the sidelines, convinced our efforts are meaningless, or we can keep returning to the work of love and justice and possibility again and again, ever hopeful that change will come. How would you prefer to live?
Ever hopeful that our ministry together brings light to life,