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,
There’s a brand new book out about Old Turtle, called Questions of the Heart. The last question is one that Old Turtle says is asked by each dawn, and whispered by the first morning breeze. The question is, “Who are you, and how will you live this day?”
And, says the book, “we give our answer each and every day, in all that we do, and all the choices we make. Our answer is in the ways that we treat one another, in the courage we must find to face a challenge. It is in our eyes when we choose to look for beauty, and in our hands when we reach out to help someone. It is in our minds when we try to understand, and in our hearts when we choose to love.” It is a question that is in all the other questions we ask, and in our journey to find the answers.
Who are we, and how will we live our days?
Someone recently asked me about what I would like to know about my presence in this community. My answer? I want to know that it mattered that I was here. I want to know that my contributions to this community, this congregation, will make a difference in the story of its history, and perhaps even influence the direction of its evolving. I want to know that I am a valued partner in relationships of growth and transformation.
There will likely not be significant financial bequests that I can leave (although UFP is in my will.) I will certainly not have made an impact of any historical significance. My name will not be put on buildings or roads or printed in textbooks. But I do believe that I will leave a legacy…a legacy of values…a legacy of caring…a legacy of commitment. And the only way I can do that, is to live my legacy now.
Take care, and go live your greatness!
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